He is known as the Big B of the Indian Cinema. If he was born before the invention of the alphabets ABCD, we are sure that the alphabets would have started with BACD…such is his impact not only on the Indian cinema, but also on the international scene. Bachchan was on BBC Radio recently, where has was interviewed and he spoke not just Bollywood, but, much beyond that! Presented here are the transcripts of this exiting in depth interview with none other than the Big B of Bollywood! Over to you Sir…When will you be acting with Dharmendra again? You have some good movies together like Ram Balram and Chupke Chupke.
That is an interesting question; we were neighbors, Dharamji and myself. And we are very close friends but we haven't had an opportunity for a very long time. And I would like to believe that this request goes out to many producers out in India, hopefully they would do something. I will be delighted to come back with him.
Your eyes sort of reacted at the idea of you'll to come back together again.
Ya, it's always good to know even at this age, we have few fans who want to see us together. And it's wonderful to work with friend and a great human being.
When you look back specifically, at the time of Sholay, would it have achieved what it did if you hadn't been in it, after all it took some convincing for the Sippies to give you the role?
Ya, it did, Sholay would have succeeded even without me or any of the others. Story itself was so strong, the way it was made. It was just superb so I say that all the time even for films like Deewaar and some of the other successful films, it's the script and the writing, the way it's made that matters. I think the actors just only fulfill their duty and I don't think they all have the power to alter the fate of the film, purely because who they are and their presences in the film. It's the strength of the film that really matters and I would like to believe that Sholay would have succeeded without the actors that they did have.
What about the Aag, is it true that you won't happy with the Aag?
Well, Aag, I think its not gone down very well and there are several reason for this and it is pointless discussing them now because the film is over and done with, but I had a good time playing the film. I was very keen to do Gabbar's role, when it was first narrated to me; I wasn't allowed to do that then and now I was and now it was not accepted by the people so u just go along with what the people want to see. It was interesting to play villain and try do all kinds of nasty thing on the screen, and played and been a goody throughout my career.
Do you think, remake of Sholay should never have been considered.
Well, now when you look back at it the answer would be 'No', but when we were are working on it we said 'why not'. We got our response from the audience and therefore that's where chapter ends.
When you look back to your career, which genre do you feel changed your life and was it the angry man and what impact did that on India cinema?
I really do not know, I was very keen to get a job, and I didn't know that I was creating some kind of cult figure. But this is a question that would be very adequately answered by the writers of that time. Salim Javed who wrote Zanjeer, Deewar and several other films, were of the opinion that Zanjeer came at the time when there was a lot of turmoil within the country. There was the feeling that the system perhaps was not working correctly and therefore you need one single individual to stand up and face the system and fight it. And any and everyone who did that, at that point of time became a hero. This was their reading of the situation this was not my reading. I was merely playing a role, I just happened to be around when they narrated the script. I'm happy that they thought like this, I'm happy that the film did well, I'm happy that people thought I was the impersonation of this sole character that is going to rectify the entire nation. I'm doing nothing of the sort, I merely playing a role. Similarly I think when the issue of the system and the angry young man tie-up went out of the scene and there was progress and there was economic liberalization in the country and every one was happy and had lots of money to spend so on. People wanted to see some thing light, happy, and colorful, full of romance and joy and in come this new brigade of youngsters who brought all that whether it is Shahrukh, Aamir, or Salman they continue to do that. The atmosphere in the country is now very up beat and I doubt very much if the angry young man and angry old man would be as successful. I think it is a lot to do with the temperament of the country and how wonderful that there are writers that can gauge that, push it to actor like us, and give us an opportunity to portray that.
Picking from that, where you do see Indian cinema going now because lots of ambitious projects are being made these days, new technology are used, lots of tribute subjects being tackled as well and you have been in some of these projects. Having a different feel to them do you cherish this is as an actor and do you think this is right way to Indian film industry to be moving.
I think any kind of challenge for any actor is always welcome; it is also very interesting to see different kinds of subjects being attempted now. We have never ever dreamt doing things like this 10-15 years ago. So it really reflects what is happening in the country and the country wants to make progress, the country wants to reject some of the old formatted kind of cinema that they are used to seeing. They where very keen to see something different as we were just saying, if the film is good irrespective of who is acting in it , it is doing well because people wanting to look at something good and different. I think the future for Indian cinema is fantastic. I think future for entire entertainment industry; there is a projection that within the next 15-20 years the entertainment and two other entities are going to be the foremost economic factors in the country. This is enormous for a cinema that was almost above 50-60 years ago. Children from good homes were not allowed to associate with cinema; I myself was not allowed to see a movie. And now you have diploma courses, you have management degrees and you have chapters in IIMs of India where they introduce you to the economic of entertainment and how to produce a film and how to manage the production company. So it has become very professional, and largely due the fact that this is indeed a replication of what is happening in the west and how the corporates of the west have developed the entertainment industry that is what we are imbibing now and that's wonderful.
What do you think about the Indian cinema gaining a crossover appeal now, with you coming to the London Film Festival to launch your film and got a whole program dedicated to the Indian cinema? Do you think that things have moved on, say in last, 10- 15 years?
I would have never ever dreamt that we would be welcomed in London, there would be a premiere, there would be a festival, our films would be invited, and we would be called to the BBC for the interview to talk about our films and about the characters we play. This is all very progressive. We never hoped something like this would happen but this is happening. And it shows even though people were cynical in west about the content of our cinema, because of being so escapist in nature. There has been now, within the past few years the kind of acceptance to this kind of cinema. I'm very happy that the Indian commercial cinema hasn't changed at all. It hasn't its changed its format. There are the songs and dances and I think that's what is making it even more attractive to the western audiences who were perhaps, for at least, over several year were cynical and critical of this kind of format. But, now it has become almost now acceptable form and we are really happy about it.
Which is your best role till date, considering the fact that you have quite recently you have taken adventurous roles like Nishbad and Cheeni Kum, there is lot of criticism on that?
All the criticisms are always fair because they come from an audience that has paid money and have gone and seen the film. It's for us to really to take up what we want to do in the film. For me, at the age of 60, you can imagine what kind of role I'm going to get! I can't romance with young girl even though I did in Nishabd which I feel was an unusual freaky situation. I think what went wrong with Nishabd was the fact the people looked at it social and moral issue rather than challenge for an actor and for a director to make the film on a subject which could be as sensitive as this film. And that's what went wrong in the film as they seem to idolize their leading men and heroes. And they want all heroes to do right things in life which is good. But we are also actors and sometimes, we do want challenge in different situation. I took Nishabd as a challenge. I personally believe that RGV made an excellent film.
You always talk about you wanting to takes up films that challenge you. What is the next stage of your challenge?
I don't know as I don't plan. These things just happen. The other day, Mira Nair came across to me and said she wanted me to do her film and asked me to read the enormous book. It was not a deliberately planned step.
Why did you never embrace Hollywood sooner?
Because, such a thing never came my way. I think that socially, it would be difficult for Hollywood to accept an Indian in the scenario of American films, but, as they say, time is the best healer.
What's your take on your daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, and her Hollywood progress?
She has worked in lot of films and her celebrity status started from something that's international. She has already had her presence felt and it seems only obvious for people in western world to look at her and give an opportunity to work with them as she decided to work.
Which era do you think, would best define as pinnacle of Indian cinema?
I hope that there is no any such era because, as I said earlier that it's very stifle and not progressive at all. I hope every era makes some addition and some progress, which adds something to the industry, and in that way any industry would grow. The other thing is people connected with a particular era always consider that it be best time of their life. I hope this continues because this depicts progress. I'm sure that Abhishek would say that this period, that this decade is best because he started working and he is associated with it. I would have said these years before, but I'm a little different because I happened to have completed 3 decades already. So, it's tough for me to say which decade is best for me, and I like to associate with present generation and would like to continue that.