Abhishek Bachchan’s journey in Indian cinema has not been easy.
He made his debut 18-years-ago with JP Dutta’s Refugee.
At that time and for quite a while, he was often criticised to receive roles due to the name of his legend father – Amitabh Bachchan.
But through ace performances in films like Yuva, Bunty Aur Babli, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and Guru, he has proven that what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.
Of recent, we have seen AB undertake several comedic roles in films like Dostana, Bol Bachchan, Happy New Year and Housefull 3.
Hence, it seems the actor has carved his own path of success.
In Anurag Kashyap’s forthcoming film Manmarziyaan, we will see Abhishek play the role of Robbie, an introverted banker from London who goes to Amritsar have an arranged marriage with Rumi (Taapsee Pannu).
Spilling the beans with me, Anuj Radia, Abhishek Bachchan talks more about his role in the film, his career and how he combats social media trolls.
In an interview, you mentioned that you were quite impressed by Kanika Dhillon’s screenwriting. What aspect specifically stood out to you?
What I like about Kanika is that she had something new to say. See, a love story will always be a love story and likewise for a love-triangle.
I really liked Kanika’s perspective on a love-triangle. I liked the way she was conveying her message through her writing.
Her perspective raises the following questions: Why is there a right and a wrong in love?
Who are people to judge whether what you are feeling is right or wrong? Why do we empower other people to decide for us what we should be feeling?
I really feel that this is what today’s youth is all about. They’re not as judgemental. They are a lot more liberal than we think they are, plus they’re okay with a lot of stuff.
This sentiment justifies the title ‘Manmarziyaan’ and one of the lines for the film is “The heart desires what it desires” there’s no right or wrong in that and I thought it was such a contemporary way to look at love.
Nobody is right or wrong in this film, be it Vicky (played by Vicky Kaushal) or Romi (played by Taapsee Pannu). It’s just a feeling.
Other than the novel concept of ‘Fyaar’ fuses love and lust together, what else is Manmarziyan offering, which makes it stand out from all the other youthful love triangles out there?
Apart from being cinematically appealing, I think it relates to the younger generation, who will associate and understand what the three main protagonists are going through.
Also, coupled with the approach and the craft that Anurag Kashyap brings to the table.
He easily communicates with the generation of today through his movies. It was a great combination to have.
Manmarziyaan must’ve been quite nostalgic for you to work with Anurag since he was also the dialogue-writer of Yuva?
It was wonderful, I really enjoyed it because, one, he is very collaborative as a director.
It was the first time I worked with a director who gave me such freedom.
He really believes in giving his artists freedom with the approach to their work and once he’s seen they’re doing, that is when he starts tweaking it.
So it was a very new and liberating experience for me. Anurag Kashyap is very giving as a director.
Your character Robbie comes across as a quiet, reserved and strong individual. How did you ensure that he is not interpreted as boring?
I’m glad you ask this because this is the foremost challenge Anurag and that is something which we discussed at length.
To start with, the character is not written as boring. It is written as someone who is resolute, shy, introverted and strong.
There are small elements in the role that lead on to the idea that Robbie is fun, knows what to do and chooses not to do it – which is all highlighted in the film as well.
Something interesting I thought about the character was the fact that he is a Mona Sardar. He has cut his hair.
When you see him for the first time in the film, he is walking out of the airport and they tell him that his parents are outside.
Out of respect, he wears the turban. He doesn’t need to, he chooses to do so. There are points in the film where he doesn’t.
Robbie is a very normal guy. His choices in life are very much his.
As a Bollywood enthusiast, I strongly believe that we have just seen a tip of the iceberg of your acting calibre. Do you agree with this? If not, what kind of scripts would help to enhance you as an actor?
I would like to believe in that (laughs). I hope there’s a lot more to show as the intention is to do a lot more work and explore (as an actor) to improve myself.
Really, I would like to.
Do you feel exploring various genres would help you to enhance yourself as an actor?
A lot of the times, I feel that what actors say is quite misunderstood.
Different genres, yes. However, we also love the stuff we do.
I was just asked whether if I’ll stop doing comedy, but I sad no because comedy is THE most challenging genre to do and I love doing it.
I’m going to do everything that I have always done.
In addition, you need to add to that bouquet, but I love commercial Hindi cinema.
You are known to stand up to social media trolls with grace and strength. How do you maintain a thick-skin when facing hate/criticism for your personal and professional life choices?
It has to start from a very strong belief. That belief for me is that everyone, regardless of how rude they are, hold an opinion, watch my films.
If they watch my films and have an opinion, it means they are a part of my audience.
I am an employee of my audience. Whether they love or hate me, it’s my job to listen to them, debate with them.
Should I be convinced with what they are saying, then I’ll try and make those changes in order to appease or please them.
The audience is the audience. I don’t live under any falsehood or arrogance that I’m this great actor and everybody has to love what I do.
They have a platform through social media to reach out to me and express their pleasure or displeasure.
If I think your displeasure or pleasure is warranted and justified, I will look into it earnestly.
Finally, it is believed that your next goal is to focus on production. What style of films would you most be interested in producing?
I’m only interested in making movies that do well at the box-office.
I think, that what the goal has to be.
Whether a film carries a message or is socially relevant, it has to be successful at the box-office.
Having grown up and been a part of this industry, I’ve always believed that it is my larger family.
When I expect an audience member to buy a ticket, to watch my movie, I owe them something.
That’s why I believe that commercial success is the most important thing.
By box-office success, I don’t mean making nonsensical films.
You can make a very sensible film that can be commercially successful.
Of late, a lot of these wonderful movies are doing so well – apart from the potboilers that Indian cinema is loved and known for.
Listen to our full interview with Abhishek Bachchan right here!
So how do you know what will succeed with the audience?
It’s a mixture of experience and advice, but at the end of the day, one has to treat themselves as an audience.
What kind of films would you like to see? Is it films which inspire or move you? Or movies which perhaps are emotionally engaging?
You have to put yourself as a prerogative.
Manmarziyaan releases in cinemas worldwide on 14th September. It is distributed by Eros International and is produced by Aanand L Rai’s Colour Yellow Productions.