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Amitabh Bachchan: “The best way to survive is to embrace change, not fight it”

The Invincible Amitabh  Bachchan Speaks To Subhash K Jha On His  Forthcoming Film Gulabo Sitabo

Amitji, Gulabo Sitabo  is your  first  release  on  the  OTT platform. Does  it feel any different from your earlier in-theatre releases?

First of all I want  to know  what  OTT means. Is  is  an abbreviation for ‘Ot Teri!’. Sorry, bad one. That’s the Punjabi in me.As  you know  my mother was Sikh. Coming back to your  question,   no it doesn’t feel any  different.Why should it?  I’ve been  working for 51  years  and  I’ve witnessed  a lot of changes. The  best way to survive is  to embrace change, not fight it .

You have  gone through   a whole history of cinematic metamorphosis, from black and white to OTT?

That’s  true. My first film  Saat Hindustani  was in Black &White.We  then moved to colour . Then  from 35mm to 70mm .From mono-sound to the most advanced sound systems .From single screen to multiple screens . AND most importantly the WORKER on the  set  from pyjamas and bare feet to jeans and sneakers!  The  digital  release is part of cinema’s ongoing  process  of evolution. One  shouldn’t   avoid change. I wouldn’t!

The younger generation of stars is  so much  in  awe  of  you they find it  difficult to  look you into the eye on camera.  It must have been really difficult for Ayushmann Khurrna  to be  so rude to you?

Let me  correct  you. The  young  actors are  very confident and  not in  the least awed  by me. The current  generation of actors  is  a pleasure to work with. They are well-prepared before coming on  the  sets and  thoroughly  professional. Ayushmann had no  problem whatsoever  being, as you say,  rude to me on camera.  It’s ACTING, remember?

Hence the question , what it like working with  Khurrana has no real  relevance?

I cannot understand that question at all! We are professionals on the sets. And we  all need to give  our best shot. If  any one  of us gives less than our best then the  work suffers. Ayushmann which by the way means long-lasting and  that’s  what his career is likely to be, was  doing his best  on the sets.And I  hope I was  doing my best. You may ask the director Shoojit Sircar if I was good enough  or  not.

Shoojit has cast you  as  a grumpy old man  again in Gulabo Sitabo  after Piku?

For more than  20 years now  I have played the leading man, the hero  who  fights against all odds, beats  up the villain and  walks off  with the  heroine in the end. I never questioned  my directors  be it Manmohan Desai,Hrishikesh Mukherjee,  Prakash Mehra in the past  or  Balki, Karan Johar or  Shoojit Sircar  in the present  about why they cast me  the way they did. Perhaps  they see me in a particular way . Perhaps they  have  a mental picture of what I’m capable  of  and cast me accordingly. If  Shoojit sees me as  grumpy, then so  be it.

What  was  it like shooting in Lucknow  for Gulabo Sitabo?

Lucknow   it isn’t called a city of nawabs  for nothing! It is  a city that gives you a royal welcome,and serves you the best cuisine  in India. The  people  are  warm and hospitable.No wonder Lucknow has become a  favourite  shooting  spot  for  our film industry. While we were shooting in Lucknow there were  three other  films also being shot there.By the way I look   forward to shooting  in  your city, Patna, in the near future.

Amitji, Gulabo Sitabo requires  a lot  of  prosthetics from you. I know how  wary you are even of  sticking on a beard on your face?

That’s rright!  Do you remember the discomfort I  faced  when shooting for my dear departed friend Mukul Anand’s  Khuda Gawah? That beard  which you said made me look  distinguished made me feel anything but distinguished.   But Balki’s Paa tutored me in the art of  managing with the most arduous  prosthetics. In comparison Gulabo Sitabo was simple…if you see 4-5 hours of makeup  in the gruelling summer heat  as simpler! But then  if you are  an  actor you can’t complain. The hard work  comes with the  territory.

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