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Amitabh Bachchan interview

Article from Unfolded Magazine Issue 03 - available online at

Unfolded Magazine had the honour of speaking to legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, BBC 'Star of the Millennium' and a veteran of over 180 films, about the launch of Bachchan Bol in the UK, a novel voice blog. Amitabh is the son of prominent Urdu poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, husband of Jaya Badhuri, father of Abhishek and father-in-law of Aishwarya Rai. We spoke to Big B about his vog, life, fashion and the Indian film industry.

With a career spanning over four decades, without a shadow of a doubt, a leading icon of the Indian film industry and an ambassador for the art, we asked Amitabh about where he gets the drive, energy and enthusiasm for acting from? "I don’t know, it just happened. Once you give a commitment and are passionate about a particular job you just find the time for it". Audiences are what have made Amitabh a household name in India, "It really has a lot to do with the audience and fans who have given me huge encouragement over the years".

Giving up a stable job as an executive in a managing agency, Amitabh did amateur theatre for several years before deciding on pursuing a film career, "films seemed to be a natural extension of theatre. I applied to several projects and got rejected. Eventually I got my break, landed in Mumbai and have never looked back".

This has been a lucky break, not just for himself but for the public who have flocked to see his films over the years. Amitabh means the light that will never extinguish; it is fitting then that Amitabh is at ease with the adoption of new technologies, blogging, twitter and now indeed vogging, to add to the repertoire of ways he interacts with his audiences, "It does interest me, technology has given me a great opportunity to connect more closely with the fans. To grasp and utilise it is very exciting".

To be short and succinct with ones words, given the twitter platform, we asked whether Amitabh would incorporate that into his vog? Would he utilise short voice messages or expand to more lengthy discussions? "The blog is fairly extensive, I can write as much as a like. Twitter is more concise, with 140 character limit. The Vog, I would say, is also limitless as I can keep talking about a subject and invite discussion and debate, as I do with my blog. Even on twitter, you can get great feedback and discussion. They are three mediums I now use extensively, but each has their own positives and negatives".

However, as a public figure, to be misquoted concerns Amitabh and he values the three mediums as "a great platform for sharing views and indeed addressing wrongly held ones of others", but "as we are only human, we are not always right". Amitabh adds that "it is welcoming at times to be corrected by others who read his words", as in doing so "we share knowledge" and "interact with others on the other side of the line with another viewpoint". 

In terms of clothing, fashion houses and designers, Amitabh certainly is an icon in India with the following he has. With that, appearance and how he is viewed are certainly important. Amitabh has said he does not have an affinity for a certain brand or clothing, wearing "whatever I feel comfortable in, is good enough for me". However, he ads that he has "been with Dolce & Gabbana (India) for a very long time, whose clothing is beautifully crafted". Of notable Indian designers he has worked, to recall just a few, Amitabh mentions Abu Sandeep (Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla) and in August, he will "return to KBC, with my look and clothing designed by Rohit Bal", adding that "they are all very young, enterprising and very talented".

With talent and passion for the film industry, Amitabh says his parents were his first mentors and people he most looks up to, adding: "from the film industry, people like Dilip Kumar, Waheeda Rahman, Motilal". With a somewhat reminiscent tone, "you have to look to your elders and forebears for guidance".

Given the whole escapism of Indian cinema, with the musicals and fanfare; Amitabh has had the opportunity to play a varied number of roles over the years. We asked whether there is a role he would like to portray in the future that would be a challenge? "I would be very happy if someone challenged me and bought something novel. Films with directors Sanjay Leela Bhansali and also R Balki, who did our last two films were very challenging".

Indian cinema is indeed changing apace, as is technology. Given his sprightly age of 68, Amitabh has seen first hand, how the Indian film industry has developed and adopt a global audience of fans, mentioning how when he grew up, cinema was considered almost a "non-entity". For the future, with companies now realising how huge the industry is and bringing in investment, of the next 40 years, Amitabh says "I think Indian cinema was looked upon rather cynically", however, the films
were "purely made for entertainment with all their music; escapism; fantasy; plot structures - 
appealing to all denominators, from poor to rich." With regard to the format: "as the box office continues to be filled, the west has realised our unique selling point", the format looks set to continue for some time. 

Of upcoming films, with Amitabh known for his inimitable style, he is set to reprise his his 'angry man image' in Viacom18 & AB Corp’s, 'Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap', directed by Puri Jagannath. Connection with fans is key and we hope to continue to see Big B in several films to come, not least, tweet, share, blog and now listen via Bachchan Bol to his words of wisdom. 
(Interview by Nardip Singh)

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