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Balki On 10 Years Of Paa

Pinch me. Amitabh  Bachchan  playing his son Abhishek Bachchan’s son…It’s still hard to believe!!!

Ten  years after  its release  the  director R Balki  of Paa  wonders at his  own audacity.  “I was recently look at  Paa   for  a showreel to  be prepared on  Amitji  for  the film festival in Goa.And  I said to  myself, ‘How the hell did we do  this?’  Because everyone  except  me and Amitjithought the idea was  not workable.”

Balki remembers  flying to Hyderabad  for Mr Bachchan’s looks  test. “Amitji had to do  the last day’s shooting of Shoojit Sircar’s Johnny Walker(which never  got released) in Hyderabad. He asked me to  come to the Novotel hotel. I reached with my cinematographer  P C Sreeram. PC very categorically said what  I  was attempting—to  cast  Amitji as Abhishek’s  progeria-stricken  son—was  not possible. Since I trust PC’s judgement more than my own I decided we would call  it off.”

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But then something  happened.  “PC got on   top of a table in the conference  room  of  the Novotel and shot Amitji from above  , with his head  prominently in the frame.Then  PC said, ‘Now  it  will work.’  That’s how we made him look much smaller than his  tall height.We shot  from  the above, lots close-ups of his his eyes, etc.”

The unbelievable  prosthetics went a  long way  in enhancing  the credibility  of  the theme.

Recalls Balki, “We had  no idea  of what the  prosthetics would do  to Amitji.That it would actually transform him into the  character Auro was  not something we planned. Each morning  it took four  hourse for the prosthetics  to  be put on. After that  Amitji couldn’t eat anything only sip liquids  with a  straw until  the  shooting for the day was done late  in the evening. At  64, Amitjiwas  the portrait  of patience.”

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Abhishek had a  lot of questions on the sets.

Recalls  Balki, “He  would  ask many questions about what we were  doing. Mr  Bachchan who could barely talk through his  prosthetics would say, ‘Abhishek,just act.’  I think  Abhishek gave a  very fine  performance as  his  father’s father.”

Vidya Balan who  played Mr Bachchan’s  mother had serious reservations about the role.

 “But once she saw her screen -son all her  apprehensions evaporated. What she saw was  Auro, the character, not  Amitabh Bachchan, the actor,” says Balki.

Balki  also got  Jaya Bachchan  to appear at  the  start  of Paa announcing the cast and crew  .

Laughs Balki, “When  Amitji saw Jayaji reading  out the credit titles he exclaimed, ‘She  looks  so beautiful.’”

What inspires  Balki  to be  so audacious  time  after time?

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“Mr Bachchan,of course every time I  team up with  him I want to do something he has  never attempted before. What we  pulled  off  was incredible. Of course  he insists  we do something mass-oriented. But again I will  do something with him that  everyone  would  reject as  impossible,” says Balki.

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