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Saturday, September 22, 2007

I seriously want to do TV again: Amitabh Bachchan

The bustle in his career just refuses to disperse. Amitabh Bachchan is to the entertainment business what the Rolls Royce is to the automobile indust.

Posh, yet warm and inviting.Last week he had the whole of Toronto eating put of his hands when he attended the premiere of The Last Lear along with Rituprano Ghosh.

Barely 3 days later he rushed to Delhi to collect his National award—"before they change their mind," he joked—and is now back in Mumbai dubbing and shooting.

The Toronto experience must rank as extraordinary even by your exceptional standards of ovation.
I am new to the film festiva scenario.Its ethics its climate and its importance. So being a part of the Toronto Film Festival was a novel experience. They say it's a big deal to be in the 'Master's Section', to be invited to the 'Gala' and the 'red carpet'.

So yes Toronto was all this and more. The crowds and the screaming fans on the street leading up to the main theatre before the red carpet, the 2500- seater inside packed to capacity, the introductions on stage, the special box for the cast, the pin- drop silence during the film and the rapt attention with which the audience watched the film and when the credits rolled in the end and the spot light came on to our seats the standing 15-min ovation.

Moving emotional and so overwhelming ! Thereafter, the festival glitterati coming up to compliment the film and the work.Then there were the numerous media interviews of praise. It all seemed unreal.

But so satisfyin! I think the presence of mainstream commercial cinema artists in an 'art film' has been the surprise and that they could be involved in such a good product has been an awesome experience for them.

Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear is your first English-language film.
Yes, the first English- language film and Shakespeare to top it is heavy stuff. But I shall await its formal release and see and gauge what the audiences of this particular kind of cinema have to say.

Last year at the Toronto film festival was different. It was Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna an escapist fare and a film that had already been released and seen by all.

It was more an acknowledgement of the presence of Indian cinema than anything else. A cinema which now happily enjoys great attention and patronage from the western audiences.

An audience that was cynical and very un- complimentary till date.It's wonderful to see the scenario change. To find everyone conversant and appreciative of our films and our country.

To be able to walk abroad with a certain sense of pride and value. To find the locals as awestruck with our stars as they are with a Brad Pitt-Angelina-George Clooney-Matt Damon.

Its all happening. And bigger things will follow.

Your Shakespearean oratory in Lear has fascinated audiences in Toronto. They ask, why and how Shakespeare from India.
Yes, some very important reviews talked about it with great relish and amazement. I'm happy it was noticed and commented on. Shakespeare is a universal entity and English is very much a part of our lives.

Be it the Government, the administration, society, films, English is a major language in our country. It's a part of our History and legacy.

So just because William was British it doesn't mean we cannot study or appreciate or play parts from his plays. All public school education has had Mr Shakespeare in their curriculum and every theatre enthusiast has read and represented him on stage at some point or the other.

Cameron Bailey has compared you with Richard Burton and Toshiro Mifune. Do you think the comparisons are apt?
No they are not apt. Of course not ! But I'm deeply humbled if he thought so and thought it important enough to be mentioned in his review of the film in the formal brochure of the festival.

The two legends are great favourites of mine. Putting me in the same bracket is an undeserving honour. But, how wonderful to find Indian actors being referred to in this vein. Incredible !!

And now you returned to collect your National award. How was the experience in Delhi. Your entire family , barring your Bahu, was there to cheer you.
Yes I returned almost immediately to the National Award. A glorious feeling of fulfillment and joy and accomplishment to be able to share the moment with my nearest and dearest.

Recognition in whatever form is so necessary and important for creative people and when it comes from the highest authority in the country it brings with it that added prestige and relevance.

My gratitude to the President, the Government and the Ministry for creating this moment for me. And my immense and sincere gratitude to Sanjay Leela Bhansali for making this happen.

What have you returned to in terms of work. Which project now?
I am on Bhootnath right now for a month till it finishes. Then move on to Alladin by Sujoy Ghosh, Shoojit Sarkar's film Shoebite ….a working title just yet, the story of which is unique and challenging. 'Teen Patti' by Leena Das, another exciting role.

Balki's next 'Pa', finishing RGV's Sarkaar 2 and preparing with him simultaneously on another dramatic project which i have coerced him into doing. And no its not called Cobra, or whatever that is supposed to be !

Ravi Chopra's Pocket Maar, a brilliant idea. And of course I'm getting set for Warner's and Mira Nair's Shantaram . There are of course very talented other directors in serious negotiations like Prasoon Pandey and Priyan and Deepa Mehta next year later.

I read intermittently the 25 scripts that lie with me for approval. I feel embarassed when I'm unable to give them immediate attention because of the work load.

They come to me with so much hope and expectation and enthusiasm and I feel so guilty when I have to say no to them. But someday God willing I shall work with them. They are all such brilliant scripts and ideas.

You're serious about television?
Of course! I've some unique ideas and concepts which I keep juggling with. I want to do it all ! But there is limited time. We are all slaves to schedules.Such a pity !!

Much above all this is the concern for my Mother's health. Its over a year and a half in hospital in that same critical condition for her. Nothing is of any value with her in this state.

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