Amitabh Bachchan made sure I was comfortable – Dhanush
He may well be two films young in Bollywood but Dhanush has garnered a huge fan following owing to his stupendous acting talent. The actor shares his experience of working with Amitabh Bachchan and why he chose to do Shamitabh.
This is your first experience with Amitabh Bachchan. What was it like? Did you feel intimated?
He takes every film seriously and treats each shot with a lot of care, be it a small or long scene. It is evident that he treats every film like it is his first and that is something which we should learn from him and follow. When I arrived on the sets of Shamitabh, I kept telling myself, ‘don’t try anything extra’. And I did just that. But that is exactly what I would have done even without the presence of the legend.
Mr Bachchan made sure he didn’t intimidate me, made sure I was comfortable, treated me equally, and it takes a great heart and a great mindset to give that comfort and space. He never asked me to do a scene differently and never intervened in my scenes. In fact, when we had scenes together, he used to ask me, ‘Is it okay if I do it this way?’. He is one of the most humble people I have come across. So when I went on sets, I was just myself. I was fortunate to be guided by Balki and Mr Sreeram.
In Raanjhanaa, you played a small town lover boy and in Shamitabh the role is completely different? Is it a conscious decision to be versatile in Bollywood?
Raanjhanaa’s critical acclaim and success was overwhelming and surprising. I decided I would not pick any random project. Some good scripts came my way, but I felt that I might not be the right choice for the movie. So I waited for the right one. Then I got a call from Balki. I have seen and loved his previous works. When I hung up the call, I prayed that the film would remain with me because he is a great Director. I met him and within a few hours I knew, this is it. I felt it was the ideal second film for me. The contrasting role was an added bonus.
What were the challenges of portraying the character you play in Shamitabh?
Every shot was a challenge. The practical difficulties of the character were interesting to play but I have to say it is probably the most challenging role of my career.
You have worked with both sisters, Akshara and Shruti Haasan. If you have to choose between them, who will it be and what’s the difference between them?
Akshara has her own style and methodology of working. Although it is her first film, it won’t look like one, as she has done a convincing job. With a guide like Balki, she has managed to do the best for her debut film.
Recently mainstream commercial films such as Tevar and Action Jackson have failed at the box office. Would you still like to do such films or do you think they are on a downhill?
You should ask this to a trade buff or a marketing guy. I have previously done such work but I never predict if the film will work or not. If I could do that, then all my 28 films would’ve been blockbusters. Sometimes you believe in something and you give your best. Sometimes your pulse for a film matches the audience’s while sometimes it doesn’t. There is no formula to plan a super-duper hit.
Stars usually have ego between them. Have you been through any of such emotions?
Ego is not healthy. Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with it. But I believe that an actor with stupendous talent can have ego because he is allowed to after all the hard work. Someone like me cannot afford to have ego.
There have been actors from South who have worked in Bollywood films but not many have survived here. So what pushes you to do Hindi films?
I cannot talk about other stars. I do not choose scripts based on which language it will be made in. Rather I choose scripts based on its merits. If tomorrow, a lot of great Telugu films come my way, I’ll do them. I am part of the Indian film industry and I am doing Indian films. We make films in different languages but a foreigner will look at these as Indian films. Only a great script pushes me to do a film.
Superstars such as Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan have done Hindi films but didn’t find much acceptance here. You’re the only one who is sustaining the test of the time. Do you take this as a compliment?
It doesn’t make sense if you compare the successes of the early ’80s with today’s time. Those days had its own difficulties and plus points and today’s has its own. And it is too soon to say anything because I am just one film old. You’ll have to wait and see what happens in the future.
Which is the one upcoming film in Bollywood, apart from Shamitabh of course, that you are waiting for? And what are your comments on that film?
If you would have asked me this a few days back, I would have said PK. I saw the film and loved it. Every time I walk out of a Rajkumar Hirani film, I find life is beautiful. I saw the film in Chennai and you had to see to believe the kind of reception the film got. The audience kept clapping through the entire film. When the film got over, the entire theatre gave a standing ovation. I watched it twice and witnessed the same response both times.
– Priyanka Jain