Millennium Post

‘If you are a lover of Hindi cinema, you should watch HNY’

‘If you are  a lover of  Hindi cinema, you should watch HNY’
Bachchan Jr is back! After delivering two mega-blockbusters in Bol Bachchan and Dhoom 3, Abhishek Bachchan is all set for a hattrick with this year’s Diwali release Happy New Year. Here’s the actor in a candid conversation...

Aaj kal khush toh bahut honge aap…

(Cuts in) Aajkal main…Achcha! (Laughs) Good good, very good beginning for this interview!
Yes, I am very happy. I am blessed! We have had a fantastic time making this film. It’s been one of the most memorable experiences I have had. On top of that, to get the support of the entire cast for my Kabbaddi team and then have Shah (Shah Rukh Khan) coming to the opening match with the rest of the cast, then us winning the title… At one point, I was disappointed as I couldn’t celebrate. But once the Happy New Year promotions kicked off, I knew the celebration wouldn’t stop. And the recently concluded SLAM! The Tour in USA and Canada was incredible. The experience and the love we were showered with is going to remain with us forever.

I recently told Farah (Khan) that if there was one thing everyone was sad about it was that the film was finally ending. We grew so used to waking up every morning and saying, ‘OK, have to shoot for Happy New Year’. That’s not going to happen anymore. After Diwali, everyone has to do their own thing. That’s really upsetting!

It’s been a long time since I did a film where everyone became so tight. Once the film releases, it’s all over. At the trailer launch, I asked Shah why he was looking so upset and he said, ‘The film is not ours anymore.’ I said, ‘kya baat kar rahe hain aap?’ And he said, ‘The film is not ours any more, it’s the audiences’. I don’t think anyone working on the film ever thought of that.

As you just mentioned, the entire unit was very tight. When there is a lot of positive energy during the shoot, it usually reflects on-screen.

Absolutely! I remember Shah telling us the night before we started shooting in Dubai, ‘We really have to concentrate off camera and not on camera because if we get it right off camera, it will just reflect on camera.’ I love to work like that, so much so that people have dubbed me a ‘prankster’, which I am not. I just love doing what I am doing. If you’re having fun making a film, it will show and it will translate. And every time you have fun making a film, it will show on screen too. It’s very important, especially for a film like this, because it’s about a team work.

For someone of his stature, hats-off to Shah for agreeing to be a part of this film. In times when we are making hero-driven films, it is rare to have the gumption to tell the audience that this film is not about me but about us. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have done it, if I were in his position. That shows he is immensely secure being where he is and he has immense faith in Farah as a director.

When I met him recently, he said that this film belonged to Abhishek…

(Cuts in) He is being sweet. I believe the film belongs to the entire team. I can’t think of anyone else in these roles. Everyone has lived their characters so well that it’s really difficult to say that this character would have suited some other person better.

If Shah Rukh says it’s Abhishek’s film, it’s because Shah Rukh is supporting me, Vivaan is supporting
me, Boman is supporting me and Sonu is supporting me. That’s what I believe.

In an interview to us, Farah (Khan) said Mr Amitabh Bachchan was to be cast for your role initially.

Is that right?
That’s what she said…
Achcha… Thanks, Farah. No, I remember Farah spoke to me about Happy New Year when Om Shanti Om had just released. At that time, she wanted dad to play the senior-most character. I didn’t know she had written this part for him. Chalo, I am happy I am doing it.

It seems you’re all set for a hat-trick of blockbusters and the business of your films is only growing, from Bol Bachchan to Dhoom 3 and now Happy New Year.

I don’t look at it like that. I don’t think anybody wants to make a flop. You want to make a film that you believe in and that you’re proud of. I would hate to be part of a film where I was not really into the film or I didn’t like the film and did it only because I knew it would be commercially successful. I am happy that the films I am doing and the choices I have been making are the right ones. We work in a commercial medium, and at the end of the day we expect people to buy tickets of our films and watch them. Our duty is to entertain them. I am glad my last two films worked with the audience. We all hope and pray that Happy New Year does too.

Do you believe that this is the best phase of Abhishek Bachchan’s career?
No, I don’t believe that. I remember Uday (Chopra), Hrithik (Roshan) and I hadn’t started our careers. It was in the late ’90s and, one day, when we all were at Adi’s (Aditya Chopra) house, we were playing cricket on a Sunday. Shah Rukh used to come and he has always been like an elder brother to us. While he was talking to us, I asked him to name his favourite role so far. I thought he would say Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. But he said the one I am doing right now. He said, ‘Remember one thing for life. Whenever somebody asks you that, your answer should be ‘the one I am doing right now’ is my favourite because if that is not your favourite at that point in time, then you’re not giving your best.’ So, is this the best phase so far? No, my best phase is yet to come. I have to work towards that.

I don’t want to become complacent. So, at the risk of sounding slightly selfish and arrogant, I think the best is still to come.

Yes, I have worked hard and have pushed myself. I have done roles which I was not sure of. When I signed Bol Bachchan, I asked Rohit (Shetty) whether I would be able to do it. I never dreamt I could pull of Bol Bachchan. But he said he had faith in me.

Even with Happy New Year, I wanted to do it because it’s a great role. But I remember asking Farah, ‘Are you sure?’ She said ‘just go all out, freak out. Believe me, you’ll be fantastic.’ So I am happy with the roles coming my way. I am happy with the work I am doing but I still feel there is so much I can improve on.

Is it difficult to play two different characters in one film?

Yes, it is because each character has its own graph, each character has a different tone and meter. And if you’re shooting back-to-back, it is very demanding. You need to do your homework properly or you might mix the two characters. In this film, the two characters are very different.

How difficult was it for you not to know English and bring that on screen?

It is a lot tougher than I had thought. For example, let’s take a word ‘captain’. I could say, Yeh humare team ka captain hain and say ‘captain’ in an Anglicised way, or I could say, Yeh toh humare team ka kaptaan hain or yeh toh humare team ka kepton hain. Language comes naturally to one. If you’re using an accent, or if you’re speaking in a different style of Hindi and can bring Hinglish into it, you have to be very sharp. It was very difficult.

Did you watch any of Mr Bachchan’s films, like Namak Halal, where he is not well versed in English?

That’s so weird. Someone brought that up at the promo launch and we said, ‘Oh, wait a second, we hadn’t thought of about that.’ That was not the reference point. This is one of the few films I have done where the character doesn’t have a reference point for me.

In Refugee too, there was no reference to the character, and when I did Yuva, Mani (Ratnam) said, ‘Just freak out, I can’t give you a reference for this character.’ So, in this film, there is no reference for Nandu Bhide. He is completely mad!

Recently, Mr Bachchan tweeted and praised Happy New Year. He said ‘it’s HUGE’. Did he mention that to you?
My father doesn’t tell me much about my work. He said he had watched the film that it was looking huge, he sounded excited. But he tells me what he thinks about my performance after watching my film. Obviously, coming from THE AMITABH BACHCHAN, it was the ultimate compliment. I think he has said more about this film to Shah Rukh than to me.

How huge is the film, according to you?

It’s huge! The first thing that Shah Rukh told me when he spoke to me about the film was that ‘my dream is to make India’s biggest film’. He said, ‘I am not talking about box-office numbers because that is not in my hands but I want to make the biggest-looking film.’ The vision is huge and I think Farah and Shah Rukh, as director and producer, have managed to achieve that vision.

The other day, SRK said he didn’t think other filmmakers would make a film like this in the near future… in terms of cinema, in terms of putting a cast like this together, in terms of the scale etc.

Why should people watch Happy New Year?

If you are a lover of Hindi cinema, you should watch Happy New Year. If you enjoy all that Hindi cinema stands for, you should watch Happy New Year. Happy New Year mein sab kuch hai… action, romance, drama, masala, emotion… just everything. Happy New Year is what Indian cinema is all about!
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