Amitabh Bachchan: Family first
London, Aug. 10: Amitabh Bachchan is 65 and has never been kissed at least, on screen.
Ahead of the arrival of his Unforgettable Bollywood concert in London on August 24, Bachchan has talked to the Sunday Times and been featured today in the papers long-running A Life in the Day column.
This gives celebrities a chance to acquaint ordinary people with what their everyday lives are like.
Big B, Indias biggest film star, has acted in more than 150 movies, the Sunday Times says by way of introduction. Now 65, Amitabh lives in Mumbai with his wife, Jaya Bhaduri, his son, Abhishek, and his daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai, all actors. His daughter, Shweta, is a TV presenter.
On the question of kissing, Bachchan appears to suggest the Indian censor might not allow such scenes: Everything we do has to go through our countrys censor. But Indian cinema has changed, much as life has changed. Life used to be much slower. That has a psychological effect on everything, films included: people dont want to stay with a visual for more than a few seconds.
Bachchan did not write the column himself but his words are relayed via the interviewer, Beverley DSilva.
Life in the Bachchan family comes across as in many other Indian families. Reading between the lines, he takes care to project himself as a good Indian and a good Hindu.
What becomes clear is that a Bollywood leading man, especially at 65, has to stay fit.
I wake up at 5.30, whether Im working or not, because I go to the gym, says Bachchan. Its near my house and my driver takes me. The gym is a recent phenomenon. I made many action movies from the 1970s on, and that kept me fit. These days its less leading-man roles, more character roles, and I felt I needed to be more mobile, so I got a trainer. She has devised a routine light weights, cardiovascular exercise, a bit of yoga and I spend two hours following that.
He explains: Bollywood films are very physically demanding. We have to do action, comedy and dance, and we might have four or five songs per day. It requires a lot of stamina and you have to be fit. I dont drink or smoke. With action sequences you need to take extra care.
We discover what he has for breakfast: I come back and have breakfast with my wife, Jaya eggs, cereal, fruit, prepared by our cook. My family are very important to me. We all live under the same roof, including my son, Abhishek, and his wife, Aishwarya. In India, to have the family living together is the norm. Thats how I grew up.
Next readers learn about his dog: I have a dog, a Great Dane called Shanuk; that is a red-Indian name for a warm, gentle breeze on a cold winter morning. I take him to my garden, which is big, and I play with him on the lawn.
He has cut down on the number of movies he does at any one time: I have three films on the floor; that is a conservative schedule by my countrys standards. India makes the largest number of movies per year in the world, and at one time I would have 15 to 20 projects on the floor at once, and wed work from 7am to 10 at night. It is better organised now: a normal shift is 9 to 6.
If there is a working lunch, it tends to be egalitarian and simple: Sometimes the cast has lunch together, but more often I go back to my trailer and finish any work, like learning lines, and have my lunch there. Im vegetarian, so its simple Indian food: dals, rotis, curries. Then I have a catnap, because I only sleep four or five hours at night.
Bachchan is certainly proud of his background: I came to Mumbai in the 1960s from my home town, Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh, in north India. Five Indian Prime Ministers have come from my city, including Nehru a family friend and great writers and poets, my father (Harivansh Rai Bachchan) being one. He was one of the first Indians to do a thesis in English literature at Cambridge.
As for his own career, he acknowledges: Ive been very lucky in my career Ive worked with some of the best directors, like the late Bimal Roy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. There is a huge interest in Indian cinema now, which is why we started the International Indian Film Academy nine years ago. It promotes our film industry and builds bridges between nations. Im very happy to be its brand ambassador.
He has learnt to be gently self-deprecating: I cant sing Im so out of tune. I wish I could play an instrument properly: it is the frustration of my life. I play my piano and pretend Im some great maestro like Ravi Shankar or Zakir Hussain. I like photography, but Im not good at that either. Ive started a blog. I love it that fans think Im sitting across from them.
Bachchan is happiest when he is with his family: We work every day, so theres little chance of a holiday. Evenings we spend as a family, talking, or watching TV or a film. I like to have at least one meal a day with them. We rarely go out to dinner. When we do we have Chinese, Italian, Indian food.
He is humble and holy: If colleagues invite us to a premiere, we go. I can go about Mumbai, I dont need to go incognito, but I dont go out on the streets. I am a Hindu and I go to the temple when I feel like it....Its not regimented.... I have a little temple in the house. I dont have a special God. God is omnipresent.
He does not carry studio work back home: Bedtime is past midnight. I sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Dreams I never remember. What I never dream about is work.