His last film's come and gone without creating much of a jingle at the cash registers, but the game's on for Abhishek Bachchan. He's got so many films lined up that for the first time since their marriage, he won't be accompanying wife Aishwarya to Cannes. "I'll be in Russia, shooting," he tells us.
The couple may be in the spotlight all the time, but if there's one thing Abhishek is not comfortable with, it's talking about himself and Aishwarya. Ask him about his plans of being a dad, and he says, "I don't understand why everyone is so bothered or excited about it. Now, it's reached a level where, you know, I'm like, 'Guys, can you let it be? It's my personal life.' And secondly, it's not like something I can hide. Tomorrow, if Aishwarya is pregnant, it's not like we can lock her away and say, 'You are not going to come out in public or something,'" he says, and begins to smile, "It's not something we can hide, it's going to be very apparent, and we both believe that these things are blessings from God, and will happen when they have to happen. There's so much speculation â€“ I find it a bit needless. I am not bothered about my friends, and don't ask them whether they are having a child or not. I'd find asking that question a little intrusive."
But isn't the public always obsessed with the Bachchans? "The intrusion into our privacy is fine, but then, like I said, when something like that happens, the whole world will know. Why'd we hide it? It's going to be the happiest day in our lives. And I think I'll make a very good father."
H as he signed the films that came his way, or does he have a particular fondness for a certain genre?Â "I like all genre of films â€“ because it is not the genre you take a liking to, it's got more to go with the script. The story you are willing to tell â€“ the storytelling process â€“ must interest and inspire an actor. I am not the type of actor to limit myself to the genre," he says.
So, then, what goes into his script-selecting process? "I don't think anybody has cracked the code of a successful film â€“ at the end of the day, it has to come from the heart. You read a script and if it touches you and you can emotionally connect with it, I think you should go for it. This is the most important criteria, because if you don't connect emotionally with the film, you'll never be able to put your heart and soul into it, and then, you'll be complacent. So, an actor must connect with the script dil se, that's the primary criteria," says Abhishek, and then, asks for a glass of warm water."
So, it all depends on what kind of person an actor is... "Yes, it's a personal choice completely. For instance, "Dum Maaro Dum" has me playing a cop with a twisted sense of humour â€“ he has a unique approach to life, which I enjoyed playing. He has a great attitude, and I really think his approach and attitude to life are very interesting. As actors, we always bring a lot of ourselves to each character we play and we also take a lot back as well. I don't think it is fair to say no, this character has nothing of me in it. Or I haven't taken away anything from the character â€“ you always do, that's how it works. At the end of the day, it is you, the actor. The physicality of the character is you, a lot of your self," says Abhishek. So, what characters is he giving physicality to currently? "I am working on "Players", the remake of "The Italian Job", and "Bol Bachchan", a Rohit Shetty film, Raj Kumar Santoshi's "Ladies and Gentlemen", "Dhoom 2" and "Dostana 2".
That's a lot of Bollywood folks he's going to interact with. Does he like working with the new bunch of young directors, or the seniors? Quickly, so that the question does not take on more edges, he cuts in with, "I enjoy working with everyone. At the end of the day, they all have done great some films, and also, the script has interested me. When we make a team for a film, that's how we have to be. A team. At that point of time, experience doesn't matter â€“ what matters is your commitment to the project and how much you are willing to give to the project." So, does the co-star matter? Like, do you have preferences about which leading lady you'd like to work with... Again, AB Jr cuts in, so as to let the question hang... "No, that's completely the director and the producer's choice. That's not something I'd ever interfere in. The director has a vision â€“ and they have to decide. Once they cast me, it's not my business to oversee who else is in the film â€“ unless they ask me. But the director always casts what he feels is right for the film, not for the personal equations." But still, it must get difficult enacting, let's say, intimate scenes with someone you may have had a spat with or... Abhi won't let the question end, and butts in with, "I don't have personal rifts with anyone so I am cool, have never been in that situation. I don't have to worry about it either."
But still... "Also, I'd like to believe that as actors, we can transcend all these things. I am sure there are actors out there whom all this bothers, but I'd like to believe that we can move beyond it too, because that's what we need to do as professionals. It's not the director's or the producer's problem that two actors don't get along. You are paid to do the job, so come and do the job." Since he talks of the director's job extensively, does he intend being one? "No, directing is something I've never thought about â€“ but producer, I already am, and that work goes on parallel. Right now, I enjoy being an actor, making films, telling stories." Does he have to think differently each time he thinks as a producer, and then as an actor? "Yes, of course. As an actor, you take a lot of creative liberties, whereas as a producer, you've to manage things as economically as possible. But I'm fine, I am managing both the things and I think I've managed to strike a balance between the two."
He also managed to squeeze out time to hit the streets when India won the World Cup â€“ a fact he's proud of. "The euphoria hasn't died down yet," he reminisces, "I remember watching the '83 finals and how much of a shor we created at home. And this is brilliant â€“ to do this on home ground, on Sachin's home ground was very, very cool. Mumbai was insane, and you just had to be on the streets â€“ it was the largest street party I've ever been to. I've met some of the cricketers I know after that, and you know what, I find this amazing â€“ they have achieved the ultimate thing in cricket â€“ and they are still so humble and thankful. They genuinely feel that the nation's prayers made them win. They have not become arrogant," says Abhishek, shaking his head as if he still can't believe it.
Coming back to films, Aishwarya will finally be doing a movie with him â€“ "Ladies And Gentleman". "Yes â€“ we enjoy working with each other. I've done a lot of films with my father too, and a many films with Aishwarya before marriage. You know what, when you are working together â€“on the sets â€“ you are not a husband, or a son. You are just an actor. That's where it begins and that's where it ends. We come from a family of actors â€“ be it dad and I, Aishwarya and I, or even my mother and I â€“ we've worked together â€“ it's always like on the sets, in the front of the camera, you're an actor. You've got to forget that this is your father, your mother, your sister, your wife or whatever," says Abhishek.
Is that really possible? To keep real human emotions at check and take on an expression that's needed in front of the camera? "Yes, it is possible," says Abhishek. And what if, say, he had to hit his father, or be rude to his wife for a film on the sets? "That too, of course, that's your job. These are things you've to think of before you take on the film. If you have a problem with that, if you feel you are not comfortable with that, it has to be worked out at the scripting level. But once you've reached the sets, you've got to go there and execute â€“ deliver it. Am sure people have issues â€“ I don't know how comfortable I'd be doing an action scene with my father â€“ or if I've to hit him. But I'd then discuss that with him before the shooting begins."
And what about those emotional scenes that end in tragedy, like in "Paa" for instance... "It affects you, affects you badly. But then, nobody said your job is going to be easy. It's not something where you go and have fun and laugh. Acting is tough. Being an actor is also emotionally very tiring sometimes. We all knew where "Paa" was heading, and I was dreading doing that scene with my father, but I'd to do it. It was part of the script and was absolutely essential for the film. "It was something I was not comfortable with at all, but my father helped me out, and I delivered what was needed."