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Abhishek Bachchan: Put on almost 20 kilos for Bob Biswas!



Abhishek Bachchan

Abhishek Bachchan Tells  Subhash K Jha How Difficult It  Was To  Put On Weight To Play Bob Biswas

Bob Biswas  is your second  film in a row after Big Bull where you have  gone for  a completely transformative  approach to your character. The slouch, the  girth, the accent…

What accent? We were very very clear on this. We didn’t want Bob Biswas  to have a pronounced Bengali accent . Such distractions take  away from the performance. But yes, you’re right about the  slouch—I had to practice  the Bob Biswas walk for  weeks—and of course the girth. I had to  put on  almost 20 kilos for  the role.

Are you serious? But that’s dangerous after  40. Losing it  is very difficult at that age?

It is  dangerous. But  I did manage  to lose the avoirdupois –pardon my  French—after gaining it.  This time  I did the weight  gain and weight loss under strict medical supervision. So I did not suffer any medical side effects. When  I had put on weight  fifteen years  ago for Guru I had done it unsupervised. And I suffered some  serious health issues.

Kamal Haasan  had  screamed into a plastic bag for a role. He damaged  his vocal chords permanently?

Fortunately I didn’t damage anything  permanently when I  gained and lost weight for Guru. In the  fifteen years that have passed since then the  film industry has become a far  more professional  place. No one is expected  to take unnecessary risks for  a role.

Why  was  it so important  for  you to put on weight  for this role?

Sujoy Ghosh who  produced Bob Biswas , his daughter Diya who directs  the film,  and I sat down  to discuss the character. We  imagined  Bob Biswas as  portly. So my character  needed  a potbelly. Sujoy and  Diya suggested prosthetics. But I  was  completely opposed  to it.


Because  prosthetics,  no matter how professionally done, always  look  fake. At least they don’t  feel right  for me. It always feels  like  an artificial part  of   my  performance.  I needed  to feel Bob Biswas’s  belly , and not just pretend with a pillow tied to my midriff. Nowadays audiences  catch on to  any kind  of fakery in a  performance.

After  Guru and Big Bull , Bob Biswas  is your third transformative character? Is  it easier  to play  a role when you  change your look?

It is  important  for  the actor to surrender  to his  character completely. Any  artificial props  are immediately  caught out. Today’s audience watches cinema from the worldover. They know when  an actor is faking it.

Thanks to the  OTT, your  competition are global characters, not only Bollywood colleagues?

I  don’t  believe in competition. I never allow myself to look  anxiously over my shoulder at  what my co-star is  doing.

But you  can’t deny that  it(competition) exists?

Of course  it does. So does one-upmanship jealousy and  rivalry.  I just don’t want  to indulge in them.Or even think about such negative things.

Earlier  you’ve worked with Sujoy Ghosh. Now  In Bob Biswas it is  his daughter? Did  you feel you were carrying on a lineage?

don’t know  about that. But  I did  feel very emotional watching Diya at work. I had done cameos for Sujoy’s films .But  we  haven’t got down to doing  a  full-fledged  film as  yet. Bob Biswas is  written by Sujoy. When I was offered  the film and told  his daughter was  directing, I didn’t even think twice. I  just said yes without even reading through the script. To me relationships have always mattered above professional interests.

 Did  Diya  deliver  the directorial  skills that you expected?

Believe me  it is hard to  believe  Bob Biswas is  her  first film. She’s  just 26 and  so sure of what she wants  from  her script and actors,  and how to get it. It is amazing how  much  talent these kids  of today have.

Is it any different shooting with a  female director?

No. Male directors can  be as sensitive perceptive  and  gentle  as the script wants them  to be. I’ve worked  with women directors in the past Farah Khan and Revathi.But I never looked at them as  women directors.

What  attracted  you to Bob Biswas?

You know  I’ve always tried to  pick roles that  challenge me. What  makes Bob Biswas so  special is  that he is such a normal  regular guy.If you spotted  him in a crowd you wouldn’t be able to  tell him apart  from  others.This nondescript Everyman  looks  ordinary.And he kills  people .That’s his job. If looks could kill….This film gives an  entirely new  interpretation to that phrase.

What  was  it like shooting in  Kolkata for  Bob Biswas?

I admit  Kolkata feels  like home. My Maa is a Bengali and my  Paa is  considered  the son-in-law  of Bengal . They consider me  their grandson. And it’s a  huge honour for  me  to shoot  in Kolkata whenever  I can,It is  very heartening  to return  to  Kolkata. I shot in this city  for Mani Ratnam’s Yuva  in 2003.I’ve also shot for  Rituparno Ghosh’s  Antar Mahal  in  Kolkata. Then I did  another Bengali film  Partha Sengupta’s Desh  where I played my own mom’s  son. Each time I’ve been given a royal  welcome here. It feels like  coming home.

This seems  to be  a specially  cluttured time for you workwise?

I wouldn’t call it a  clutter. Because  I enjoy  what I do.  But yes, I have Bob Biswas. Then  soon after that I’ve another  film Dasvi which I’m proud of. Then I’ve just shot in Chennai for a film that I’m producing. I’ve also  completed another  season of  the webseries Breathe .

Do you think the  era  of  the starsystem is now over?

The love of  stars will never  wane. What would you call Tom Cruise? But yes, with the OTT  emerging as a   viable option  for  releasing films, audiences want to watch good content. They  still love their stars. But they want to see them in  good content.

 Final  question, do you  think there will ever be  another Amitabh Bachchan?

No. Never.


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