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'If Shoojit sees me as grumpy, then so be it'

By SUBHASH K JHA
June 01, 2020 16:55 IST
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'The digital release is part of cinema's ongoing process of evolution.'
'One shouldn't avoid change. I wouldn't.'

IMAGE: Amitabh Bachchan as Mirza Sheikh in Gulabo Sitabo.

Amitabh Bachchan is all set for another first in his life -- the release of a film on the OTT platform.

Gulabo Sitabo, set for release on June 12 on Amazon Prime, sees him play landlord to Ayushmann Khurrana's tenant.

The film, with a fun trailer, is directed by Shoojit Sircar.

"I have been working for 51 years and witnessed a lot of changes. The best way to survive is to embrace change, not fight it," he tells Subhash K Jha.

Amitji, Gulabo Sitabo is your first release on the OTT platform. Does it feel any different from your earlier in-theatre releases?

First of all, I want to know what OTT means.

Is is an abbreviation for Ot Teri?

Sorry, bad one! That's the Punjabi in me. As you know, my mother was Sikh.

Coming back to your question, no, it doesn't feel any different.

Why should it?

I have been working for 51 years and witnessed a lot of changes.

The best way to survive is to embrace change, not fight it.

You have gone through a history of cinematic metamorphosis, from black and white to OTT.

That's true. My first film Saat Hindustani was in black and white.

Then we moved to colour.

Then from 35mm to 70mm.

From mono-sound to the most advanced sound systems.

From single screen to multiple screens.

And most importantly, the worker on the set (moved) from pyjamas and bare feet to jeans and sneakers!

The digital release is part of cinema's ongoing process of evolution. One shouldn't avoid change. I wouldn't.

IMAGE: Ayushmann Khurrana and Amitabh Bachchan in Gulabo Sitabo.

The younger generation of stars is in such awe of you that they find it difficult to look you in the eye on camera. It must have been difficult for Ayushmann Khurrana to be rude to you.

Let me correct you. The young actors are very confident and not in the least awed by me.

The current generation of actors is a pleasure to work with.

They are well-prepared before coming on the sets and thoroughly professional.

Ayushmann had no problem whatsoever being, as you say, rude to me on camera. It's acting, remember?

 

IMAGE: Irrfan Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone in Shoojit Sircar's Piku.

Director Shoojit Sircar has cast you as a grumpy old man again in Gulabo Sitabo after Piku.

For more than 20 years now, I have played the leading man, the hero who fights against all odds, beats up the villain and walks off with the heroine in the end.

I never questioned my directors, be it Manmohan Desai, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Prakash Mehra in the past or Balki, Karan Johar or Shoojit Sircar in the present, about why they cast me the way they did.

Perhaps they see me in a particular way.

Perhaps they have a mental picture of what I'm capable of and cast me accordingly.

If Shoojit sees me as grumpy, then so be it.

What was it like shooting in Lucknow for Gulabo Sitabo?

Lucknow isn't called a city of nawabs for nothing! It is a city that gives you a royal welcome, and serves you the best cuisine in India.

The people are warm and hospitable.

No wonder Lucknow has become a favourite shooting spot for our film industry.

While we were shooting in Lucknow, there were three other films also being shot there.

By the way I look forward to shooting in your city, Patna, in the near future.

Gulabo Sitabo requires a lot of prosthetic from you. I know how wary you are even of sticking on a beard on your face?

That's right! Do you remember the discomfort I faced when shooting for my dear departed friend Mukul Anand's Khuda Gawah?

That beard, which you said made me look distinguished, made me feel anything but distinguished.

But Balki's Paa tutored me in the art of managing with the most arduous prosthetic.

In comparison, Gulabo Sitabo was simple... if you see four-five hours of makeup in the gruelling summer heat as simpler!

But then, if you are an actor you can't complain. The hard work comes with the territory.

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