Big B (Amitabh Bachchan) shared his insights about the experience, interaction and views of PIKU with us and here we are sharing all that with our viewers.
One of my favourite screen characters is Sexy Sam from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. In my humble opinion, that is the coolest onscreen father in Hindi cinema. I also believe that no other actor except Amitabh Bachchan could have played that role. Any other actor as Sexy Sam would have cheapened it and come across as a dirty old man.
Big B brings a certain dignity to all the characters he plays. The Angry Young Man from Zanjeer (1973) metamorphosed into an Angry Old Man in Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap (2011). He pulls off both effortlessly – four decades apart. In his next, Piku, he plays Pa again to Deepika Padukone (after Aarakshan).
As I see the father-daughter banter between them in the trailer, I can’t help wondering how he is as a father to his real-life daughter Shweta Bachchan Nanda. Big B was game to share insights. Excerpts from an email interview…
Define yourself as a dad in five words. (Please don’t say, ask Abhishek and Shweta)?
Wrong question! Describing a dad does not require five words, just one is sufficient, I am ‘Dad’. It’s the daughter who needs a voluminous encyclopedia to be described. In this, lies the definition that you may seek. Daughters define us fathers. We are that supple plasticine ready to be moulded by them, caricatured, constructed, formed in all shapes and sizes in accordance with their wishes and desires.
A wish that we look forward to, a wish that we long for, a wish that we want to be a continuous part of our living. Which is why when they leave to acknowledge and acquire another ‘father’, we break all emotions and shed our deepest and most heart-breaking sadness in copious tears! Their mothers break too at the time of wedded departure, but they are not just mothers, they are experienced mothers.
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They were daughters too at the time of their departure to become a part of another environ, another home, another set of in-laws! Daughters step into their future homes, by taking that lota-filled-rice-container-kick, into the premises of their husband. While at the homes of their birth, the father and mother store and secure with zeal and compassion the roli-imprinted steps of her feet, on a piece of paper or cloth – sacred and revered, impressioned by the belief, albeit, symbolically, that she still abides with us! You think it’s tough being a mother and a daughter? Ask me… It’s tougher being Pa!
You ’ve played senior characters – in Khuda Gawah, for example – when you were young. How different is it playing that age now in your 70s?
A lot more realistic, believable, and able. Temperament, style, endeavour of the age, comes naturally at 70-plus. It’s the reverse that is improbable. Young to old spells commendability, spells appreciation as a performer if done well, and of some convince-ability. Old to old spells restricted movement, physical effort, lapse in memory for dialogues, restricted action, and lacked speed of communication. There are benefits, too.
No arduous hours of sticking beards and ageing wigs. A certain respectability on set, not as an accomplished artist, but as an aged elder. The voluntary chair to sit on after the shot, that glass of water that appears unasked for and the constant refrain… ‘How are you feeling, Sir? How’s the health?’ That is a business mandatory. Indisposition for a while or permanently, would sound or be the death knell for production – pun unintended.
Also Read: PIKU Movie Preview
You play a 70-year-old with age issues. Off screen you are fighting fit and work out. How was it essaying a role completely different from you an individual?
Shoojit, my director, be praised for putting me in this challenging environment. Just because you are old, does not necessarily give you the ability and acumen to play old in front of the camera. You require strength of character both physically and emotionally. Emotionally, age takes care of many artistic demands of script.
Physically, fitness begets fitness for the execution of the role. I am not fighting fit. That is an anomaly, not just for me, but for any 73-year-old! But no harm in pretending that you are. Stomach in, chest out at public appearances, and giving the girth some refrain from such, as you plonk yourself into the realm of the ‘couch potatoed TV watching sloth.’
Who is the real Amitabh Bachchan more like? The character in Buddah Hoga Terra Baap or Piku?
Smart attempt! No, baby… That is for me to know and you to find out… Or actually… you to know and me to find out! Hehehe!!
Is age just a number? Your character in Piku is retired. And he keeps himself super busy. Did you have a reference point for the role?
Reference points were the director and all my Bengali directors, of which there have been several, and most of all, my seven-year itch in the City of Joy – Kolkata. Busy… Most Bengalis are super busy with their exquisite art of questioning everything – a quality most admired by me and I am sure by many of the intellectual society – and their hypochondriac penchant for matters that concern health, especially their bowels.
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How do you make time for family in between all your commitments?
I do not make time. Time makes it for me.
In what ways is your onscreen equation with Deepika in Piku like your relation with your daughter Shweta Bachchan?
Shweta is genetically mine. Deepika is professionally mine. Genetics rule. You will not be able to compare Shweta with any other. And I shall not accept any effort made in that direction; no father would agree with that. Professionally, I am fond of Deepika. I admire her work, her ethics, her composure, her determined effort to improve, which has been a revelation to most in the Industry. What she does, behaves, conducts, reveals in her personal life is none of my business. And quite frankly, no one else’s either!
How is a father’s equation different with his son than the one with his daughter in your experience?
For me, my daughter and son are equal. They will know equally what I am thinking, doing, reasoning, planning, working, travelling, watching, wearing, driving…. Difference? I may lapse into an odd expletive with Abhishek, with sufficient warning. Never with Shweta!
I believe you and Deepika shared banter on the sets while rehearsing. Do you share that with Shweta as well?
Yes, of course ! Equality pervades banter, too…
You read Shweta’s column before it appears in the paper. did you know about her writing skills before she began penning a column? Did you urge her to write?
Yes, I do read her column before it goes to press. She sends it to me. She has been a skilled writer from a very young age. Her letters, her little snippets that she would compose in school, all were most impressive. And yes, I do encourage her to write a lot. At times, I seek her inputs on subjects that I have to speak on publicly!
How was Shweta growing up?
She was an elegant lady from the day she was born. Quiet, observant, shy and later, freer to express her thoughts.
In your opinion, is Shweta a mama’s girl or daddy’s girl and why?
I would imagine she was the same for both. But I can say, generally, daughters tend to speak more to their mothers. They would come to the father at a crisis, an opinion, a concern. But daughters are both mama’s and daddy’s girl, I would imagine.
How has your equation with Shweta changed over the years especially after her marriage?
Earlier, I was protective of her… and still am! Now, she is protective towards me. She will fight injustice, malice, criticism against me and simultaneously be involved in suggestion and opinion.
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Were you a fun father or a strict dad?
That is for Shweta to answer. All I can say is that I have never in my entire life, ever, lifted my hand on either Shweta or Abhishek. And truly they have never given me reason for it either. I have admonished them when they were younger. My admonishments today are balanced with reason and calm rather than annoyance and demonstrative anger!
What’s the rapport you share with Shweta’s daughter? Are you an indulgent grandfather?
I love her. Which is to be expected from any grandfather. And I would love to indulge her. But she has seldom given me occasion to do so. I would, if given liberty, spoil them to eternity. But her mother would never allow that. Which says a lot for her and her mother both. There is a great sense of pride in this.
Shweta is also set to do a food blog for NDTV. If you had to give her suggest ideas to her on what to write what would it be?
I would absolutely be the wrong person for any kind of advice on anything that spells culinary!
Shweta is one of the most stylish girls in Delhi – she has been featured on Vogue covers. Do you think your style/persona in some ways has rubbed off on to her?
Shweta is mature enough to guide her own style, and if you find her to be stylish, that credit should go to her exclusively. If you were to seek a genetic link, then I would opt for my mother. She was the epitome of style, fashion and presence.
In the trailer, one sees Deepika getting annoyed by some of her dad’s habits. Any habits of yours that your family teases you about?
Oh boy! That is a delightful question that the entire family would want to contribute to – in great excess!
Watch PIKU Movie Trailer Below:
In the film you and your daughter go on a road trip. Shweta recently wrote about going on a holiday with her mom and daughter. When was the last time you took a trip with Shweta? Any fav vacation’s memories?
Yes… but I would need a book to write about it and right now, I do not have the desire or the presumed ability, to take on the mantle of an author.