Big B requested Mamatadi to not invite him as Speaker at KIFF
By Hemanth Reddy S 25/12/2015

 It started with a simple question. Can we get an interview with Mr Amitabh Bachchan? Yes, HIM. The Shahenshah, he with that whiff-of-thunder baritone, he who rules all our hearts. Also he, who has been in Kolkata since November but not given a single interview. Finally, after a tense wait, came the reply. Mr Bachchan had agreed — to an email interview. He did not skirt a single question, did not object to anything. So here it is — Amitabh Bachchan like you've never heard him before. Excerpts:

Your blog tells us vividly that your present visit to Kolkata for TE3N is steeped in nostalgia. You've spoken about the bore tide in the Hooghly and that the Titagarh Jute Mills, where you shot scenes for the film, was managed by the company that gave you your first job. What are the most vivid memories from those early years in Kolkata (then Calcutta)?

It would take more than just a limited questionaire to be able to do justice to your query. But yes, coming to Kolkata, then Calcutta, has been most nostalgic each time I have been here since I left in 1968. There shall always be moments in our lives that are filled with those early memories, and they stay with us for long. When you find yourself in the same environment after a period of time it all comes back. Kolkata has been filled with nostalgia, but what I've found most endearing is the people of the city — their passion, their love and their enthusiasm. I've never ever experienced this in any other part of the world.

Speaking about today's directors, you mention the 'renaissance of filmmaking in India'. You yourself have worked with a host of new-age directors in the recent past — like R Balki, Shoojit Sircar, Sujoy Ghosh and now, Ribhu Dasgupta. How are they different from directors you've worked with earlier, like, let's say, Manmohan Desai, Ramesh Sippy or Hrishikesh Mukherjee? Is the worldview and professional outlook today different from the vision of directors from an earlier generation?

All movie directors have one thing in common — how to tell a story on film! All directors you mention, past and present, have had their own expressions on celluloid of what they perceived to be the best way of narrating events that formed a three-hour visual for the audience. Past directors lived in a certain time and expressed what prevailed at that time. Directors of this generation do the same. Times have changed and perhaps circumstances, but the way to express them has remained the same. There shall always be a 'start sound', 'camera', 'clap', 'action' from their mouths. Technically, more facilities are available than earlier and the audiences have increased and become more conversant with the craft. They are exposed to the world of entertainment through the many, varied communication facilities. What we give them from our sphere, they want that to match their expectations or be even better in quality. That is the challenge that all directors face and all of them deliver so well.

Shoojit, Sujoy, Nawaz — everyone talks about your dedication and sincerity towards your craft. The body does not grow any younger, yet how do you will yourself to carry on tirelessly when actors much younger than you have already taken their leave from the screen?

I cannot speak about others, but if I have made a commitment to work in a project then the least that is expected of me is to dedicate myself to the work. I cannot say that I succeed in doing so, but I try. Coming to TE3N, tell us about what made you say yes to the film. Also share with us your experience of working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who is one of the most talented actors of the present generation.
TE3N has an interesting story and a most interesting way of narrating it. I liked the idea and the way it was to be presented. I liked the fact that I had worked with both Sujoy and Ribhu before. I was comfortable with them and so I went ahead with the project. Nawaz, as you rightly say, is an exceptional talent. It has been most inspiring to work with him.

First Piku with Shoojit, now TE3N with Sujoy and Ribhu, coming up is the untitled film with Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Shoojit. Your link with Bengal seems to be growing stronger every season. Your thoughts on this...

I do not see a problem in that! My first job was in Bengal; I have Bengal in my home and I am its 'jamai'; Hrishida was our godfather when we came to the industry; and till a very long time ago, he was the director with whom I had done the maximum films. It's just the way it has worked. I continue to enjoy the atmosphere they all work in, and hope to continue to do so in the days ahead, God willing.

Please share with us a few anecdotes about your relationship with Sujoy and Shoojit — both are Bengalis, both are very close to you and both are equally admired in Bengal and Mumbai film industries.

I feel it is most important for any artiste to share not just the desire to work with a particular director, but to be able to share similar sensibilities. I find myself sharing such sensibilities with Sujoy and Shoojit. It is both professionally and personally endearing. The anecdotes are many, but suffice to say that the most valuable are the ones where I break into my weak and incorrect Bengali often on set and they snigger and keep correcting it for me.

You have played the character Bhaskar/Bhaskor Banerjee twice in your career. Once in Anand and nearly 45 years later in Piku. In Piku, your character is a funny take on some famous Bengali character traits. How easy or difficult was it to create this cranky, idiosyncratic Bengali man? Did you draw on your past knowledge of Bengal and Bengalis?

I did nothing, Shoojit did it for me. I merely copied him.

You are a very special guest at the Kolkata International Film Festival. Please share something with us about your warm relationship with our CM, Mamata Banerjee.

Mamatadi, as we all endearingly address her, has been inviting me to the Kolkata International Film Festival for the past three years and it has been a most rewarding experience. The respect and the attention both she and the festival audience have given me is so heart-warming. The affection with which she takes care of the minutest details of the event is remarkable. I have been loving the research and detailed occurrences in Bengali cinema for the past three years. But I have now requested Mamatadi to not invite me as the guest to speak on the occasion, because my research team and I have exhausted all my work on the subject of cinema in Bengal during these past years. (Haha) I really don't know what I can speak on the next time I am invited. I did express this to her during my last visit, perhaps in good humour, but she doesn't seem to pay much heed to it. If you have access to her I shall be grateful if you could put in a word!

You are the brand ambassador of Gujarat tourism. You also share a special relationship with Bengal and its people. One state is supposed to be the hub of commerce, the other the Mecca of culture and arts. When you travel to these two states, do they ever present to you a picture of contrasts?

There is art and culture in Gujarat too, as there is commerce in Bengal. There are no contrasts. We are all one nation and one people. We may speak different tongues, but they are never too far away from being recognised as being Indian.

You shared the screen with Uttam Kumar in Desh Premee. Though it was many years back, are there any special memories of Bengal's biggest film icon?

He has been iconic for Bengali cinema, yes, but through that, in many ways, iconic for the entire film world. A natural, comfortable and easy demeanour. A prolific performer and one that I could learn so much from.

You rarely interact with the media, yet you are a very active blogger. Your thoughts and words flow eagerly and you seem very keen to interact with the world of your fans. This blog seems to have opened a window connecting our most loved actor to his millions of admirers. Your thoughts on this...

Yes, my blog and Twitter and Facebook have connected me to several well-wishers and at times, not so many well-wishers. I find it invigorating and most endearing to be able to speak to them personally and to be able to know and learn their mind and opinion. My little name for them, my Ef, has been well received. We now look upon each other as an extended family. I know many by name and face. I meet them during my travels, and I do that each day. I am now without a single day's break on DAY 2817 on my Blog, day T 2087 on Twitter and day FB 1187 on Facebook. These are the number of days I have been communicating with them, each day without a single break! There are discussions on various topics, there is assessment of my work and its criticism. There is expression of love and there is abuse, all of which is welcome. I share my thoughts with them and my pictures and they do the same. It's a most wonderful family and I am most proud of it.

Source: TOI

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