There was no red carpet, a few media people and hardly any one around in the busiest place in Central London's Leicester Square where the screening of The Last Lear was about to take place as a part of the 51st London Film Festival. But it took less than a minute for the area outside Odeon cinema to be mobbed by his fans screaming for his one look. The dull and dreary afternoon suddenly turned out to be an exciting one as the one and only, Bollywood's biggest super-star Amitabh Bachchan graced the occasion. Wearing his suede black over coat with a pink shirt and a tie, he came... (in Odeon cinema)...he saw (the film)... and he conquered (the hearts of his innumerable fans). I spoke to the living legend for a brief five minutes before the curtains lifted. What fresh new outlook has The Last Lear brought in your film career as of now?
The fact that it gave me an opportunity to work in English, an opportunity to recite Shakespeare on screen, something that we all have grown up with during our education process, the fact that this is more artistic cinema and not the commercial escapist cinema that I've been associated with since last forty years and the fact that I'm working with an extremely talented, sensitive and an aesthetic director, Rituparno Ghosh. I'm very happy with this association and happy with this product and I hope we do many more films together.
Do you see a bright future for yourself by doing English films?
I don't see or predict my future. You, the media and my audiences are the ones who make and break our future. An actor's work is to simply work and your work is to simply appreciate or criticize our work. If you think that my work is good and is worth an applause then you will yourself make my future bright.
But how satisfied are you today by attending the screening of your first English Film?
An actor should never be satisfied. The day I am satisfied, I will stop working. I think every actor should strive to work to achieve perfection rather than achieve satisfaction.
How different was it to recite your lines in English compared to your usual Hindi dialogues?
I think the medium is the same. Cinema is a universal language. But yes, it's a new experience for all of us. It has been challenging, different but exciting.
We are seeing you a lot more in the UK now-a-days. Any plans of settling down here?
No not at all. It's just that work brings me here. I was here a few months ago for the IIFA's and now for the screening of my film The Last Lear at the London Film Festival. Hopefully there will be many more occasions.
We hear that in one of the scenes from the film where you are shown drunk, you talk like a Shakespearean actor. Are you so inspired by Shakespeare?
I had to; I had to get inspired from William Shakespeare. My role demanded it. But this is the aspect of us Indians. When an Indian talks to a Britisher, his accent changes like that of a Britisher, when he talks to an American, he brings in the American twang and when he is with an Italian, he tries to speak in Italian accent. That's the quality an Indian possesses. But when he is drunk, he is back to his Bengali, Gujarati or Punjabi. That's what I brought in The Last Lear.
Did you get inspired from any veteran stage actor in Indian cinema to portray your role of Harry in The Last Lear?
No, this is purely my own instinct. I thought that maybe because Harry, that's me, has worked on the stage and Shakespeare, he would always want to be slightly over the top when he spoke to anyone. Thus, he behaves like a stage artist who speaks Shakespearean language.
With so many films you're doing, isn't it right in saying that the angry young man is getting younger day by day?
No I'm not. In fact the angry young man is getting older. I've just moved into sixty six. (laughs)