By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, Aug 11 (IANS) Abhishek Bachchan has two major releases lined up for August, "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" (KANK) and "Umrao Jaan", and they are vastly different from each other. But he is not worried.
"As my luck would have it, both 'Umrao Jaan' and 'Kabhie Alvida...' are being released back-to-back. I'm curious to see how audiences react to these completely different characters. As long as they're entertained, I'm happy," Abhishek told IANS in a chat.
Apparently it was easier for Abhishek to get under the skin of his character in Karan Johar's romantic drama "Kabhi Alvida..." than J.P. Dutta's "Umrao Jaan", a period film.
"Actors always bring a lot of themselves into their characters. At the end of the day the character is being performed by the actor and the character must therefore have elements of the actor. It's very important for me to identify with the character I play. Otherwise, I can't play him convincingly," said Abhishek, who confesses he is bowled over by co-star Shah Rukh Khan's humility and hard work.
"When you work with him you realise he's Shah Rukh Khan not because he tries to be, but because he's amazingly good at what he does. I was bowled over by him as an actor and a human being."
Q: Why are you suddenly so out of the media loop?
A: It wasn't intentional. It's just unfortunate. I've been travelling abroad and in India, shooting. I haven't had the time to sit and talk to anyone lately.
Q: Your plate certainly looks full.
A: I've always worked at this pace. I've to work with what I've got and deal with it to the best of my abilities. I'm still trying to complete one film before moving on to the next.
Q: You've two acutely antithetical films - "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" (KANK) and "Umrao Jaan" coming up one after the other.
A: It's only after I did my first period film "Umrao Jaan" that I realised how modern we tend to be in our everyday conduct as individuals. I had to try and forget my natural body language and demeanour and re-acclimatise myself. That was a challenge.
Then again, when you've a director like J.P Dutta saab, he guides you through any complexity. Interestingly, I came to "Umrao Jaan" straight from KANK, straight from as 'Karan' in New York to Lucknow in the 19th century.
Q: A very challenging time for you as an actor?
A: No different from how it has been in the past. I've chosen a challenging job. As my luck would have it, both "Umrao Jaan" and KANK are being released back-to-back. I'm curious to see how audiences react to these completely different characters. As long as they're entertained, I'm happy.
Q: Apparently in Johar's film you play a character very close to your heart?
A: Actors always bring a lot of themselves into their characters. At the end of the day the character is being performed by the actor and the character must therefore have elements of the actor.
Karan knows me so well. He has used a lot of my personality for my character in KANK. But let me tell you, it's very important for me to identify with the character I play. Otherwise, I can't play him convincingly.
Q: How was it working with Shah Rukh Khan in KANK?
A: Only after you work with Shah Rukh do you truly understand why he is who he is and why he enjoys his position. He's such a humble and unassuming person in real life.
When you work with him you realise he's Shah Rukh Khan not because he tries to be, but because he's amazingly good at what he does. My advice to any actor who works with him is to interact with him off the sets for a week before shooting begins. I was bowled over by him as an actor and a human being. I've never seen a more hard-working actor.
Q: You seem totally bowled over.
A: I really hope I get to work with him again and again. Shah Rukh is an immensely generous actor. He almost concentrates more on getting the other actor's performance right in a scene than his own!
When I was stuck in a scene he readily helped me out. The amount I've learnt from him about conduct as a person and an actor is insurmountable. He truly deserves his superstardom.
Q: And Preity?
A: KANK was our first film together apart from a little bit of work together in "Salaam Namaste", when she was just lying on an operation table and screaming. She was no longer lying down in KANK. But she was still shouting at me. She's brilliant in KANK.
Q: She claims you can out-chatter her.
A: With Preity it's a bit of an ego problem. Since I'm a very sore loser, I've to try and outdo her in talking. I love Preity. She's one of the nicest persons I've met. So I'm looking forward to working with her again in Shaad Ali's "Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom".
It's exciting because of the cast. Preity, of course, is one of my favourite people on earth. Then there's Bobby Deol whom I've known since I was a kid. I've had a deep desire to work with him. There have been many projects in the past together, which didn't work out.
Q: You're also doing the sequel to "Dhoom"?
A: One of the plus points of doing a sequel is you already know the character. I play the same character. Then there's an equation already built with the crew. So, you automatically get into the groove.
The exciting part is to build a new mood in the given parameters. We can't serve the same thing to the audience. It's a new cast and a new plot. Hopefully, it will be much better and bigger than the first "Dhoom".
Q: And Hrithik Roshan?
A: "Dhoom 2" is my second film with Hrithik after "Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon". He isn't just hardworking, he's seven notches above that. Through his hard work he pushes me to work. What's wonderful about actors like Shah Rukh and Hrithik is they aren't just concerned about their own performance but also their film. It's great fun just hanging out with him. "Dhoom 2" is a party.
Q: How's it working with R. Madhavan in Mani Rathnam's "Guru"?
A: We got to know each other really well when I was doing a remake of his Tamil film "Run". I'm very fond of Maddy and his wife Sarita. It's wonderful to get in front of the camera with Maddy.
Q: How's it working with Rathnam again?
A: "Yuva" was a turning point in my career. And all credit to Mani for this. "Guru" is a challenge. Mani likes to push his actors. He likes to break conventions. He gives you a scene, then you work it out as logically as you can. He then takes it and flips it around completely. He likes to go against the grain. The actor had better rise to the occasion.
Q: What's on the anvil?
A: After Shaad's film is over I'm doing a film with my friend Goldie Behl. "Drona" is the working title. After Goldie's film I go on to Ram Gopal Varma's "Sarkar 2". Then I move on to Rakeysh Mehra's "Delhi-6". After that it'd Rohan Sippy's film next year.
Q: You and Mehra go back a long way.
A: Yes, I'm very excited to finally work with him. Rakeysh and I were supposed to do our first feature film together. It never worked out. We've been trying to collaborate for 10 years now. I'm glad we finally cracked it. "Delhi-6" is a very interesting subject.
Q: Finally, suddenly you're in so many endorsements?
A: My criterion to endorse a brand is simple. Would I use the product and am I comfortable endorsing the product? It's very important for the brand ambassador to have faith in the product. I believe in the products I endorse.
Q: Are you conscious of your public conduct?
A: You've to be true to yourself in your private and personal conduct. We have to realise we've a huge responsibility towards the public. They look at us to set examples and we've to be conscious of that. Having said that, I must say I'm what I am and I behave the way I've been brought up to behave.