Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai
For the first time in a 13-year career, Abhishek Bachchan will have only one release in a year.
The fact that he returns in Dhoom 3 a film heavily promoted on the shoulders of his co-star Aamir Khan, Abhishek is a confident and composed man and maintains the fact that he will always remain the hero of Dhoom.
In this interview to Sonil Dedhia, Abhishek talks about the experience of working with Aamir Khan in Dhoom 3, why he doesn't believe in the concept of solo hero and why he will never use his father Amitabh Bachchan’s influence to get a role in a film.
Your last film Bol Bachchan released 18 months ago. Your contemporaries are doing more than three films a year. Why do you just do one project at a time?
Unfortunately, Dhoom 3 got delayed. I am a very impatient person by nature and actually this has been the first year that I've only had one release. But I won’t disappoint my fans again and hopefully in the coming year, there will be two-three releases.
What does Dhoom mean to you?
Dhoom, for me, is an emotional experience, as it was my first success.
It was while working in this franchise that I made some wonderful friends. It has been fun doing the three films.
When we made the first film, nobody thought that it would become such a huge franchise. I remember while shooting for Dhoom, Adi (Aditya Chopra, producer) said that he wanted to redefine the action genre and take it to a new level and make it cool.
The biggest advantage that I got from doing the first two films was that I got Dhoom 3 and I am still here (laughs).
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'Dhoom is my film and I am the hero of the film'
The entire focus of Dhoom 3 has been on Aamir Khan. Do you feel side-lined?
Why should I feel side-lined? I am in the film and you can’t take me out.
The audience doesn't care whose film it is.
To date, one of the greatest multi-starrers is Amar Akbar Anthony and no one said it was Amitabh Bachchan’s or Rishi Kapoor’s or Vinod Khanna’s film.
It was everybody’s film.
There were reports that you were not happy with the way the film was being promoted…
You should ask the people who decide the marketing strategy, which evidently isn’t me.
It is my film and wherever the production guys ask me to come, I will make an appearance. But if they feel there are certain events where they don’t want me to be around, there is nothing that I can do about that. Do I feel bad about it? No. I don’t pay attention to these things.
Dhoom is my film and I am the hero of the film. Nobody can take that away from me.
'Dhoom 3 is the most non-Dhoom film that we have made'
The film has had minimum promotion and Aamir Khan also agreed that less is more. Do you agree with that?
With due respect to everyone associated with the film, I think Dhoom doesn’t need any stars. It doesn’t need Aamir. Nor does it need me or Uday (Chopra).
Dhoom has become such a big franchise that you can have newcomers in the film and the film will still do well. So I agree with Aamir that in Dhoom 3’s case, you don’t really need to go all out and promote it.
What do you think the villains, from John Abraham to Hrithik Roshan to Aamir Khan, have added to the film?
All three Dhoom films have been different. As I said earlier, Dhoom was Adi’s experiment and it really worked.
It was a classic cops and robbers, good and bad film. The first part did well so that when we decided to make Dhoom 2 we had to amplify everything and have a bigger star cast.
So we shot in international locations and an element of romance was introduced (referring to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s character).
Dhoom 3 is the most non-Dhoom film that we have made. It is a bit darker, edgier and this time we have given the villain a great emotional reason for what he is doing.
'Every actor is a perfectionist or wants to be one'
How was the experience of working with Aamir Khan?
Working with Aamir Khan was like going back to school.
Aamir is a senior and I have immense respect for him as an actor. He is somebody I look up to.
To get an opportunity to share screen space with him is a huge honour and it’s something you really enrich yourself with if you are an actor.
It was a lot of fun working with Aamir. Uday and I were reticent on the first two days because Aamir is a senior actor and we had to behave. Later on we realised that he is very naughty. He puts on this thing about I am a responsible actor but he is a big mastikhor in real life.
Was it intimidating, as Aamir is known to be a perfectionist?
I think every actor is a perfectionist or wants to be one. Initially, I was overwhelmed because obviously he is Aamir Khan and you respect the work he has done. But I think one of his greatest achievements is that he really manages to disarm you and make you very comfortable.
We did a lot of preparation before the film so by the time we got onto the sets, it was literally like having a buddy at work.
'I take huge offence to the term 'solo hero''
Is it easier to work in a multi-star film as compared to a solo hero film?
I take huge offence to the term ‘solo hero’. This term is rubbish and obnoxious.
If you think Guru was a solo hero film you are telling me Mithun Chakraborty, R Madhavan, Aishwarya and Vidya Balan are not stars and not actors.
For me, anyone who is in front of the camera is a star and an actor and has equal responsibility for the film and equal right in the success of the film. From the spotboy to the lightman to a junior artist, everyone has made as much contribution to the film as the actor.
So are you denying the whole phenomena of a ‘hero’?
No, I am not denying it. A story has a hero but that doesn’t mean it is a solo hero film.
I am doing Happy New Year where I have five other actors with me and I give it as much importance as I give to another forthcoming film of mine All Is Well (directed by Umesh Shukla).
Every actor in the film is important and they must get the credit. Whenever I have won an award, I have shared it with my entire star cast.
During the TOIFA (Times Of India Film Awards) I shared my award with Krushna Abhishek because I genuinely believe that he was fantastic in the film (Bol Bachchan). He helped me improve my performance and I feel every actor contributes to another actor’s work.
Only if I am the only person for the entire duration of the film can I say I have done a solo hero film.
'For me, cinema should have an emotional connect and should entertain people'
You worked with Aamir Khan in Dhoom 3 and now you are working with Shah Rukh Khan in Happy New Year. What do you learn from these superstars who have had such long careers?
There are two things that superstars have in common: their enthusiasm and their humility towards their work.
Off the sets, they are big stars for others and they carry themselves the way they want to.
But when they are working, they are not stars. On the sets, they are interested in making the best film, which is infectious. They are concerned about getting the film right and that is very refreshing. It is very heartening to see this.
There has been a lot of hype about Dhoom 3 breaking all previous box office records.
The audience doesn’t really care about the collections. It is the trade people and the other people from the industry that need something to talk about and analyse and so we come up with this Rs 100 crore and Rs 200 crore club. I am still looking for these clubs (laughs). The audience only thinks if the film is good or not.
When I watch a film, either I like it or I don’t. I have done 55 films. I don’t know what good editing is, but I see a lot of people coming out of theatres and saying 'Arey editing bahut weak tha' (The editing was very weak).
For me, cinema should have an emotional connect and should entertain people.
'I will never be able to reach the stardom that my father has achieved'
Photographs: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
Uday Chopra in his interview mentioned that when he started out he aspired to be a star. Was that the case with you also?
I never aspired to be a star. I always aspired to be an actor. For me, the high is always in the characters that I play and the kind of work that I do.
Stardom is a by-product of an actor. If one concentrates on becoming a star it will never happen. It is better to concentrate on becoming an actor and stardom will automatically follow.
Your father has been in the industry for more than four decades. Do you ever think what you will do when you reach his age?
I really pray and hope that I am able to do what he is doing at his age.
I can’t see my life without the opportunity to work in films. I hope that I am blessed enough that at his age I am able to work in films.
He was the biggest, is the biggest and will remain the biggest star. I don’t aspire to be like him. I will never be able to reach the stardom that my father has achieved. I would like to make my own path.
There are reports that your wife Aishwarya is making her comeback with you in Gaurang Doshi’s film, which is produced by Pralhad Kakkar.
Pralhad and Aishwarya have known each other for many years. He has a script and he is keen to cast us together. We haven’t heard it yet. As and when we hear it, and if we like it, we will decide to do it.