‘I won’t do a film for the heck of it’ Abhishek Bachchan on upcoming films, the possibility of working with wife Aishwarya again and his take on the trade

Abhishek Bachchan is quick to describe his 15 years in the film industry as a roller-coaster ride. His career has had its highs and lows and unexpected surprises, too. Here, he talks about his sporting pursuits, about career choices, the possibility of working with his wife, Aishwarya and more…

You own a kabaddi and a football team. Is there a bias towards a particular sport?
No, their schedules are completely different. We finish kabaddi in August and football starts in October. I am equally passionate about both.

Do you think these leagues will help India prepare to be a top contender in the international arena as well?
Of course. How much did you know about kabaddi before the Pro Kabaddi League last year? Now you do. Whenever I travel abroad, the number of sportsmen that have spoken to me about the game is very heartening to hear. In case of football (starting the Indian Super League), part of the mission statement states that India, as a national squad, should be competing in the World Cup.

Do you think it will also bring in a shift in the industry pattern and more films will be made on kabaddi as well?
What we don’t realize is that Indian cinema is not limited to Bollywood only. There were two films made last year which revolved around Kabaddi and they weren’t just montage shots. They were actual films. Similarly, cricket and football are what Indians are crazy for. Hence, you see a lot of films being made on cricket and football. There was a Chak De! India made on hockey. Soon, I am sure there will be mainstream films made with mainstream actors which will have kabaddi as the central theme.

Over the last few years, you have been part of ensemble casts. All is Well is a solo film after a long time. But it’s been delayed for some time now…
Well, we expect the best. Reality, usually, is completely different from what we hope. We have to make do with things. We have given it our best, it’s a very sweet film. It’s a film which is close to my heart because I love the message in it. When I heard the story, I knew I wanted to be a part of this film because that’s something I wanted to say at that point of time. Yes, it had its shares of hiccups. But these things happen so you just need to move on and try and put your best foot forward.

People have also started comparing it to Piku. Comment.
The only similarity between Piku and All is Well is that both the films are about a road trip. And that’s it. There’s no other similarity.

Aishwarya told us that the makers are planning to revisit Happy Anniversary. Have they approached you again?
No, they haven’t. At least not till now.

If they do, will you take it up?
Ash and I would love to work together. I always enjoy the space of making a film with her. But it has to be something which both of us agree to, individually. As far as Ash’s requirements go, it ticks all the boxes. Similarly it needs to tick mine. I won’t disrespect her ever as an artist. I won’t do a film for the heck of it. You have to look at such things individually. You can’t look at it collectively.

Did you watch the trailer of Jazbaa?
The one that they released in Cannes? Yes, I did. It was more of a show reel. It wasn’t really a promo. When you go to a festival like Cannes, you don’t take the promo. What you take instead is something you call the ‘sizzle reel’. It’s just glimpses of the film. So yes, that’s what I have seen. I loved Aishwarya in the film and I am sure people will love her too.

Given that there are so many paradigm shifts in the industry today and you are a producer, what new thing would like to try out?
Everybody’s up with their own stuff. What’s really nice is that, with the advent of multiplexes, it has become financially more viable to make a film which is more niche in its appeal, to the audiences intended for. I have produced Piku but I don’t know if 20-30 years ago, a film like that would have ever been made. People wouldn’t have made it because they wouldn’t be able to sell it because it might not appeal to as wide an audience to as say, a hardcore masala potboiler. It’s business at the end of the day. When you have those big single screens with 900-1000-seaters, a Piku is not going to be loved that much. But when a multiplex comes along, there are smaller screens which you can fill up and there’s an audience, it’s only possible to make such films. So the paradigm shift that has happened is not related to the subject matter. We have learnt how to exhibit our films now. So the actual execution is happening at the distribution and execution. The creative field will always be that. People will be creative and they will do that they feel like doing. We talk about women centric films, they’ve always been made. We talk about family films, they’ve always been made. We talk about the big summer blockbusters. These films were always being made. We have cracked how to exhibit the films and reach the target audience.

Our films are doing extremely well in international markets too. Do you think the gap is being bridged now?
It’s a global market. Cinema’s becoming a global product now. I think that’s very encouraging that the films from the West are working here and our films are working there. Telugu cinema has been increasingly growing over the last 10 years. What Bahubali has done is astonishing and definitely worth it. And deservedly so. But what’s heartening to know is that our markets and our horizons are broadening. And they are also now looking at India as a very strong market. There have already been two-three films which have crossed 100 crores here which is huge for them. So it is becoming a global product and I think what will happen in the times to come is that we will start watching films which are going to have more of a global perspective and outlook.

You teamed up with Raghav and Nelly for a music video. Tell us something about it.
Raghav is a friend. I remember meeting him 10-11 years ago when he had first come to India. He’s been in touch ever since then. Last year, at Diwali, he came over to my house and he said, ‘Look, I am working at this track. Would you like to be a part of it?’ He was keen and of course, I wanted to work with him. He then told me that Nelly was working on it as well. Nelly is one of my favourite hip-hop artists so it was a golden opportunity to collaborate with him. We recorded the track and it turned out really well.

Bluffmaster sequel on the cards?
Riteish and I have been hounding Rohan (Sippy) for the last 10 years. But Rohan’s not the kind of director who will just announce a film because it will go through the roof. We have to back it up with a script. I am not an actor who would make an announcement for sensationalism so we’ve been trying to crack something. I won’t lie but I would love to make a sequel to Bluffmaster. Or maybe a continuing segment from where we left. We have been hounding Rohan. He’s open to the idea and has not shut the door on it. But we have to develop the right script first.

Any old film you want to remake?
No, I would rather make films that people want to remake later.

You’ve always said you want to play Yuvraj Singh in a biopic. But if someone had to play you in a biopic, who other than you do you think will do justice to the role?
I don’t think anyone can pull it off. (Smiles) In all modesty, I say that. I don’t know but that’s a good question. I should think about that. There’s no one I can think of immediately.

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