'Umrao Jaan' is Aishwarya's movie: Abhishek BachchanNov 5, 2006 Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Nov 5 (IANS) Abhishek Bachchan is effusive in his praise for co-star Aishwarya Rai's work in "Umrao Jaan". The film is an out-and-out Aishwarya film and he is just a small player in it, he says.
"'Umrao Jaan' is about Aishwarya's character. It's her movie. I'm one of the small players in the film. She's a very capable artist and someone who can shoulder an entire film. She's done a fantastic job in 'Umrao Jaan'. I've worked with her earlier. This is truly her best work so far," Abhishek told IANS in an interview.
But he adds that irrespective of the length of his role, "Umrao Jaan" was a challenge for him.
"The film was a special challenge because there was no ready reference-point for the era that we were working on. We had to rely totally on the research done by J.P. saab ... which was very thorough. The language, body language - everything was entirely different from the way we conduct ourselves today."
Talking about his character in Mani Ratnam's "Guru", Abhishek said: "Well... he isn't a poet and nawab as in "Umrao Jaan" nor a cool cop as in "Dhoom 2". It's about a character who dares to dream."
Another era, another milieu...poetry, music, romance...
I've never done anything like this before. "Umrao Jaan" is my first period film. I was suddenly transported into this world, which is completely poetic and lyrical, and so very different from what I've been doing so far. I'm so lucky to be an actor.
I get to go into places and eras that have gone. "Umrao Jaan" was a special challenge because there was no ready reference-point for the era that we were working on. We had to rely totally on the research done by J.P. saab ...
which was very thorough. The language, body language - everything was entirely different from the way we conduct ourselves today.
What should the audience expect from "Umrao Jaan"?
Well, it's the story of the courtesan "Umrao Jaan" played by Aishwarya Rai. So there's plenty of dancing. But it's also a very emotional and dramatic story. I see it as a cluster-breaker. In today's day and age, when whatever we see in cinema is contemporary it's nice to reclaim such a glorious era.
Would you say Aishwarya supports your performance in "Guru", as you support hers in "Umrao Jaan"?
No. Every character is equally important in every film. I cannot support her character. "Umrao Jaan" is about her character. It's Aishwarya's movie. I'm one of the small players in the film. I don't think Aishwarya requires any support from me.
She's a very capable artist and someone who can shoulder an entire film. She's done a fantastic job in "Umrao Jaan". I've worked with her earlier. This is truly her best work so far.
What about her dances?
She's a wonderful dancer. I believe she's classically trained. What better opportunity for her to display her dancing skills than to play a courtesan?
And what better experience than to sit and watch Aishwarya dancing?
Well, I wasn't there all the time when she was dancing. A lot of my shots were taken separately. Unfortunately, my father was in the hospital when the first schedule of "Umrao Jaan" was held. They very sweetly waited for me in Jaipur. I did my work only when I arrived three weeks into the schedule. And no one can tell the difference. That's the magic of J.P. saab's cinema.
Even Mani Ratnam's "Guru" takes you into another era?
True. It isn't set in contemporary times. "Guru" starts in the 1950s. It's fascinating to live through a time when I wasn't around, and a time that I haven't personally experienced. The dress code, the behaviour ... everything is so fascinating.
A tumble of three big releases before the year ends. Nervous?
Every film is a responsibility. For me every film is a major release and to that extent every release is a challenge. The rest is up to god and the audience. These are very exciting times for our cinema. Diverse films are being made.
People have accepted "Rang De Basanti", "Fanaa", "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" and "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" during the same year. And the fact that I am an actor during such exciting times is a blessing.
After "Umrao Jaan", a culture shock for audiences in "Dhoom 2"?
I don't think audiences go with pre-conceived notions into any movie. For them, every movie - "Umrao Jaan" or "Dhoom 2" - is a different experience. Yes, there're huge expectations from audiences, as there ought to be. That's what pushes filmmakers to work harder.
You don't seem to be caught in the image trap.
Yes, I suppose "Umrao Jaan" is as different from "Guru" as they both are from "Dhoom 2". Audiences will get bored if I keep doing the same thing repeatedly. They expect variety from all actors. One can't be bothered with the image. I feel if you adhere to an image, you aren't submitting to the film.
Well your dad was bound by the image of an 'Angry Young Man'.
I totally disagree with you. For every "Deewaar", he did a "Chupke Chupke" as well. For every "Kabhi Kabhie" there was an "Amar Akbar Anthony". I don't think there has ever been a more versatile actor than my father. People just chose to highlight one aspect of his work.
How would you describe your role in "Guru"?
Well... he isn't a poet and nawab as in "Umrao Jaan", nor a cool cop as in "Dhoom 2". Gurukant Desai is a unique character, an achiever who has the brains, luck and a diligence to achieve his dreams. It's about a character who dares to dream.
"Guru" is totally different from both "Umrao Jaan" and "Dhoom 2". I know many actors who'd die for the opportunity to work with either J.P. saab or Mani Ratnam. I got to work with both during the same year. I'm thankful to be in their films.
Compare Dutta and Ratnam.
It's amazing how different the two directors are. J.P. saab is very spontaneous while Mani carefully plans every shoot. But both know exactly what they want. I owe a lot to these two directors. I've come out as enriched from "Umrao Jaan" and "Guru" as I did in my earlier films with them, namely "Refugee" and "Yuva".
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