Abhishek Bachchan, who makes a comeback after a two-year-long hiatus with Manmarziyaan, has for the first time in his career planned the manner he wants his filmography to shape up. “I think I will be realising my maximum potential now. I want to now. I never thought about it before. Earlier, I was just very happy being in films. Now there’s a dedicated plan about what I want to do and how I want to do it,” Abhishek tells indianexpress.com in an interview.
The fact that the actor chose Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan as his comeback film and let go off his mentor JP Dutta’s Paltan (even though Abhishek has said he had personal reasons to leave the project) is proof enough of how the actor wants his second innings to look like.
“At this point of my career, I wanted to do something that was going to make me uncomfortable. I wanted to do something that would challenge me. I knew Anurag would do both. It was instant. It happened really fast. In January, they approached me for the film, and in February I was shooting for it. That’s how right it felt and we just went from there,” the actor says.
One would assume for Abhishek, a part of the challenge to do Manmarziyaan, which also stars Vicky Kaushal and Taapsee Pannu, could have been the fact it was Kashyap who was at the helm of the romantic drama. It is known that Kashyap was not an admirer of Abhishek’s acting skills till at least a decade ago. The director, who had written Yuva (2004), apparently wrote on his blog years after the film’s release that the actor did not understand half of the dialogue and “did not rise above the script.”
Abhishek Bachchan, however, reveals it was because of Anurag Kashyap he said yes to Manmarziyaan. “In fact, when Aanand L Rai told me he wanted Anurag to direct the film, that’s when I said yes immediately because I knew Anurag would do something different. Anurag making a love story was just a very exciting combination. Anurag, Aanand and Kanika Dhillon (the film’s writer) together is an exciting combination.”
As the actor expected, the experience of being directed by Kashyap was fulfilling, so much so that Abhishek wants the filmmaker to repeat him in his future projects.
“It was magical. I really enjoyed it. The making of Manmarziyaan is one of the happiest things in my professional career. I have really enjoyed working with Anurag. I have learnt so much from him. He has placed so much faith in me and he is such a giving person and (also) as a director. The kind of love he imparts on his actors and his crew. It’s just been wonderful to work with him and learn from him. I really do hope that he gives me an opportunity to work with him again. I really, really enjoyed it,” the actor says.
Unlike his time on the film’s set, the time preceding the shoot was uncomfortable for Abhishek. The nervousness of facing the camera again was not easy to handle, he says. “The preamble to coming on to the set was a lot more nerve-wracking. But the minute I walked on to the set, it was like this is where I am meant to be. I believe that. I have been born in the film industry, I have grown up here and I will die in the film industry. This is what I love doing and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. The preamble to it was terrifying and the minute I walked on to the set, I was like let’s get going, let’s start this.”
The last few outings in Abhishek’s filmography did not stand tall in terms of his performances but by the virtue of being safe multi-starrers (Happy New Year, All Is Well and Housefull 3), they guaranteed a steady career. This was the period that made the actor realise he had let complacency creep in. It was time to reflect at his choices.
“It’s difficult for some to keep the hunger going on and for some it isn’t. It’s a mindset. I felt that complacency creeping in and I didn’t want to get sucked into that. So, I took a step back because I thought that was important for me. Having said that, the period when I did not make films, the hiatus or the sabbatical was the first step of the plan. These are the things that I had been feeling from much before. When I stopped signing films, that was me already executing the first step of the plan I had set up for myself,” he says.
An introspection, perhaps, also allowed Abhishek to conclude that it is always better to say no to films that do not resonate with him than ending up being part of them to avoid saying no. “It is very difficult to say no to people. Majority of the times, I end up saying yes to avoid saying no. It has happened several times in my career. It won’t anymore though.”
Having said that, a sabbatical in a business whose stakeholders change every Friday is never easy but the actor believes “somewhere deep down inside, you have to have faith in what you are. You have to have immense belief in what you are capable of doing coupled with an immense self-doubt. It is an irony but that’s what it is.”
Going forward, Abhishek Bachchan will reunite with actor, wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan after 11 years in Gulab Jamun, which is produced by Anurag Kashyap. “Gulab Jamun is a beautiful script, written by Sarvesh Mewara. He is directing the film and Anurag is producing the film. It’s a film that Aishwarya and I are very excited about doing. We haven’t decided yet when we are going to do it. So, we still have to schedule the shoot. But it’s a film that we are really looking forward to.”
Meanwhile, the actor is relishing the rekindled affair with the movies, including the unstoppable, maddening promotions for Manmarziyaan that releases this Friday, which leaves him with very little, but a good sleep. “Well earned sleep, as it should be,” he signs off.