"I've a special soft corner for Vidya Balan."
Although Amitabh Bachchan teamed up with some of the best actors in the just-released 'Eklavya', it is Vidya Balan who has impressed him the most.
'I've a special soft corner for her. She's absolutely marvellous and so wonderfully natural. She's so endearing to watch on screen,' Amitabh told IANS.
'When I saw her in 'Parineeta' for the first time in Amsterdam, I wanted to look only at her and nobody else on screen... with all due respects to the rest of the cast.'
'Eklavya' got a lukewarm response and critics were not too happy with the length of the film (two hours) but the actor defends it saying, 'You don't need too much time to spread out a dramatic thriller. Every film has its own rhythm.'
Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra has been singing praises about the superstar's performance in the film and calls it his best till date but Amitabh doesn't agree.
'That's his viewpoint. I don't agree with him. True, I've never done anything like this film. I did have a cameo in Shah Rukh Khan's 'Paheli' where I was similarly dressed. But all told, my physical appearance is very different in 'Eklavya'.'
Excerpts from the interview:
Vidhu Vinod Chopra and you seemed to have established a very special rapport.
He's a kind human being and very passionate about his work. He has a keen eye for aesthetics. He creates an atmosphere conducive to good work. We waited 30 years to work together. All directors must work towards building a rapport with their actors.
'Eklavya' is an intriguing film. The visuals may suggest a mythological or a period film. But 'Eklavya' is modern contemporary thriller. It's set in today's Rajasthan.
It is a very short film....
It's just about two hours long. That's fine. You don't need too much time to spread out a dramatic thriller. Every film has its own rhythm.
You've been giving TV interviews on 'Eklavya' in super cool sunglasses?
Oh those were for a particular reason. I had been shooting the whole time for Ram Gopal Varma's 'Sholay'. The role of Gabbar requires me to wear contact lenses. These left me with blood-shot eyes and no choice but to wear sunglasses for the interview that followed the shooting.
Chopra insists 'Eklavya' is your best performance.
That's his viewpoint. I don't agree with him. True, I've never done anything like this film. I did have a cameo in Shah Rukh Khan's 'Paheli' where I was similarly dressed. But all told my physical appearance is very different in 'Eklavya'.
You hated the beard, didn't you?
It's such a pain! Once you stick on the beard with gum it just restricts your facial movements and irritates you. God bless Pran Saab. He's a master with beards. And he managed to work so wonderfully with them. Vinod and I have agreed that if I'm required to wear a beard in my next film with him, everyone else on the crew would've to do the same.
Does that apply to Vidya Balan too?
Provided she's part of the next film.
You had to recite lengthy dialogues in sync sound.
That was tough. But when you have to do something, you do it. The false beard made the dialogues difficult. Vinod suggested I take six months off and grow a real beard. That's the level of commitment. But my other commitments do not allow me the luxury of changing my physical appearance.
But others in 'Eklavya' went out of the way. Sanjay Dutt cut his hair. Jackie Shroff grew a beard. It would've taken me a couple of years to grow the beard that was required to play 'Eklavya'.
Most of the 'Eklavya' cast is new to you.
Except Sanjay. He has a unique personality. You could put him in any circumstance, his presence and personality take care of everything. He's one of the most lovable persons in the film industry. He's adopted Abhishek as his younger brother. I know Sanjay from the time I came to Mumbai to become an actor. Dutt saab (Sunil Dutt) and Nargisji had taken me under their wings, nurtured me...
And Saif Ali Khan?
He has evolved beautifully. Thank god we saw his potential bloom in 'Dil Chahta Hai'. Subsequently he has improved with every project right up to 'Omkara'. It's a great joy being with actors like Saif. The amount of care and dedication that they give to their roles is wonderful.
I've a special soft corner for her. She's absolutely marvellous and so wonderfully natural. She's so endearing to watch on screen. When I saw her in 'Parineeta' for the first time in Amsterdam, I wanted to look only at her and nobody else on screen... with all due respects to the rest of the cast.
Did you adopt your father's Shakespearean imagery in your performance?
Not me. But it was part of Vinod's writing process in deciding the attitude that 'Eklavya' would adopt. Vinod accidentally met Peter O'Toole. The next day he invited O'Toole home and asked me to come and observe his 'Shakespearean' walk. I couldn't go to Vinod's house... Vinod is continuously creating a creative pool. Only he could connect Shakespeare and Peter O'Toole with my character Eklavya.
How do the mentor Vinod and his most accomplished protégée Sanjay Bhansali compare?
When during 'Black' I saw Sanjay's detailing and passion I didn't know Sanjay had worked with Vinod for eight years. It was only after working with Vinod that everything fell into place. The time spent with Vinod has obviously rubbed off on Sanjay. Today, Sanjay has his own subjects and style, Vinod has his own.
Finally, the wedding date of Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai ?
We're still in discussion. As soon as we firm in, we'll get them married.