Abhishek Bachchan: My creative choices have changed over time, keeping Aaradhya

Time and again, Abhishek Bachchan has battled against all odds, rebooted himself to step into the world of films, and created his own niche in the industry. Ahead of his next release ‘Dasvi’, Amitabh Bachchan took to social media to cheer for him and called him his ‘uttaradhikari‘. In an exclusive conversation with ETimes, Abhishek talks about his film, the challenges, and how he is reinventing himself as an actor.

Ahead of ‘Dasvi’ trailer release, you had tweeted that you have been borderline apologetic about your work. People say that’s because of lack of confidence…

I don’t know. I feel immensely proud of the film. I am very happy. And I think we’ve all worked very hard and made a good film. And I just wanted to put that positive energy out there.

‘Dasvi’ gives us a very interesting character Gangaram. As an actor, how challenging was it to put your best foot forward?

It was challenging, but not that difficult either, because at the end of the day, you’re working off the material that’s already written for you. So I think the film was pretty pivotal, hats off to my entire team of writers. They did a fantastic job. You know, a well written script makes the actor’s life that much easier. And speaking of my character, he was just very sumptuous to portray somebody who’s very gregarious and is larger than life, responsible, aggressive, and is used to getting what he wants. He has a swagger about himself. So it was a lot of fun to play.

What were your biggest takeaways from the film?

As an audience, I was very happy to see good, clean, family entertainment. This is something that comes directly onto a streaming platform. It’s a film meant to be watched with your grandparents, your grandkids. Yeah, watch it, and you’ll enjoy. It’s a great film, its heart is in the right place.

Fans love seeing you performing comedy roles. How do you balance out the needs of your fans and the kind of growth you require from yourself as an artist?

That part, it comes down to a very personal choice. What do you feel like? Because you have to be totally convinced about the role that you do. Because if you’re not configured to pull any punches, one involving your audience is going to see it and they’re going to feel cheated. You know, I think ‘Dasvi’ came around at a perfect time for me, because I just came off straight from some very intense films, and I was looking to do something lighter. And it just fit the bill perfectly. So I really enjoyed the writing. It’s nice to mix it up.

You’ve portrayed different characters incredibly. Your latest ones being ‘Ludo’, ‘Big Bull’ and ‘Bob Biswas‘, and then ‘Dasvi’. Over the years, how has your creative process in choosing scripts evolved?

I think my choices have changed to a large extent. Today, it’s more about me wanting to be a part of a good story. That’s been the most important criteria. More than my characterisation, I want to focus on good stories.

With the OTT culture, people often stress on the fact that it should be content driven without paying much heed to the entertaining part. How do you reflect on that?

It depends what your definition of entertainment is. For me, it’s always been — entertainment is often misunderstood as a comedy show. It’s not. Entertainment is really wonderful when you feel satiated afterwards. That was two hours or three hours well spent. That’s interesting. You get your money’s worth. So any film that people enjoy watching is something that’s entertaining, whether it has a message or not.

Bachchan Sir recently applauded ‘Dasvi’ trailer and mentioned that you are his uttaradhikari…

Well, I don’t know, any individual, an actor or any other professional, as and when they’re recognised, let alone praised by their idol or their hero, it’s not going to make their life. So I’m in a similar situation. I’ve always said I do what I do to make my family proud, to know that they have not only seen my work, but also recognise the effort put into it, and appreciate it.

YouTube comments are rooting for you. You have completely changed your acting roadmap in your second innings. How do you reflect on that?

Well, as long as they are speaking positively, that’s something to be happy about. Isn’t it ? Don’t question it, just be appreciative. I am really happy with the choices that have come my way, and the chances that I have taken.

Back in 2018, when you made a return to the big screen with ‘Manmarziyaan’, you had shared a post about how scary it is to sit on that vanity chair. Over the years, has that feeling changed?

No, that feeling hasn’t changed. It’s scary. You know, there’s a huge amount of responsibility. There’s money involved, there are a million other things involved. There are hundreds and thousands of people that work on it, we tend to become the face. Instead of shying away from that, you have to accept it, take it in stride and say, ‘Okay, I’m going to give it my best.’ So it is a very scary place to sit.

22 years in the industry. One can say, you did have a smooth sailing, and you did take a step back to reboot and reinvent…

I think there’s a certain comfort level with my craft. You can’t be comfortable as an actor, in general. But there has to be a certain comfort with your craft, and a certain confidence that comes with that. There has to be that self-belief that ‘Okay, I can achieve the goals that I set out for myself.’

Do you think the audience has often been a little too judgmental, with the comparisons…

I have stopped looking at it. More like, I don’t look at it. I concentrate on my job. That’s all that matters. At the end of the day, if I do a good enough job, they don’t think of anything. It doesn’t get overwhelming either. I am in a happy space that way.

How much has your kid’s influences in movies and shows influenced your own choices of late? Has it ever happened that you’ve said yes or no to a project because of your child?

As any parent would tell you, your child fashions a lot of your mindset. Not just in your professional life, it’s everyday. I’ve always been somebody who gives a lot of importance to family. So, obviously, I’m no different. My creative choices have indeed changed overtime, keeping my family, my daughter in mind.

Your last film outing followed the OTT route and has gathered a massive response. As an actor, who’s known for big ticket releases, do you miss the silver screen releases, or are you happy with how things are panning out?

I miss it immensely. I really hoped that ‘Dasvi’ would come out in the cinemas. But you know, there are a lot of other market forces that you have to consider. At the end of the day, you have to consider the silver lining – 400 to 500 million people are going to have access to this at a click because of a digital streaming platform. That’s something to be very happy about and look forward to.

How are you finding a hold of yourself in the industry? What are you chasing right now?

Well, I don’t agree with the entire notion of cut-throat competition. There’s healthy competition and they should keep you on your toes. My colleagues keep me on my toes. I see good work. I’m appreciative of it. And I’m inspired. Okay, I got to do stuff like that, I got to do better work than that. This is the gold standard right now, you have to be as good as that, if not better. We should look upon it as healthy competition, people that inspire us to better ourselves. I’ve never liked the word cut-throat competition. At the end of the day, this industry is like a big fraternity. Slightly dysfunctional, but it is. It is an opportunity.

At the end of the day, a creative person is always going to appreciate true creativity. Whether they do that publicly or privately is another matter. But they will always acknowledge and appreciate good work and good actors. We have to start to learn to encourage each other and not have this attitude that we have to destroy somebody else to improve ourselves now. So I prefer to look at it as a healthy competition. You have to just keep pushing your boundaries, you have to do work that makes you uncomfortable. If it doesn’t challenge you, you succumb to change. It has to be able to keep doing. I mean, I feel immensely blessed and thankful to all the makers of ‘Ludo’, ‘Bob Biswas’ and ‘The Big Bull’. I’m very thankful that directors today consider me an option when they think of something.

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