It is not uncommon for two accomplished actors to complement one another on a public platform. But when Amitabh Bachchan tells an actor 40 years his junior that he wants to work with him so that he can learn a few things about acting, it’s got to mean something.
This was at the India Today’s Unforgettables session last week where Ranbir Kapoor, befittingly bespectacled sat down to interview Mr Bachchan. Ranbir began by confessing he can never look the iconic Mr B in the eye. And that one of his earliest childhood memories was visiting the sets of Ajooba (directed by Ranbir’s grand-uncle Shashi Kapoor) where he saw Mr Bachchan dressed in a larger-than-life costume.
“I got nightmares for a month after that,” Ranbir cute-confessed.
“What did you drink before coming here?” Mr B guffawed.
“Two glasses of champagne,” retorted Ranbir.
The initial banter and ritualistic reverence revealed by a junior for Mr Bachchan (“I realized I didn’t need to go to any acting school except the Amitabh Bachchan School,” says Ranbir about his experience of being an assistant during Black) didn’t prepare us for Mr Bachchan’s lavish compliments about Ranbir’s abilities.
Just working with Ranbir, said Mr B, would be a learning experience. “All your films have been a learning graph…I find it very unusual the way you react …The way you look…the way you are looking at me now…You don’t move any muscle and to convey so much feelings is a tough job…I don’t see you moving your face as much as I do…I always notice when you perform you don’t do much. How do you do it? That’s my question to you…You are brilliant. I sometimes wonder if I can emulate what you do. It’s just to remain still and not do anything. And it’s not just your films, it’s even in your ads…I envy that. Because I can’t do it.”
The stunned speechless Kapoor could only fumble and mumble, “Sir, you are pulling my leg.” But of course Mr B meant every word he said.
I remember after Ranbir’s debut film Saawariya was released in 2007 Mr Bachchan said to me, “Ranbir is the storm. Sonam is the soft breeze. Ranbir’s presence is a storm, and Sonam is the graceful, calm, gentle breeze that flowed around him. The narrative is almost like a Beethoven symphony, where the thunderous sound of the orchestra is always followed by the soft thin flute – a symbolic interpretation of gentle desire and overpowering destiny. Have you heard Beethoven’s symphony? There’s a loud orchestra followed by a thin flute sound… This was the genius composer’s interpretation of desire and destiny…The destiny loud and ominous, the desire soft and gentle. It’s like the two protagonists in Saawariya.”
Mr Bachchan also advised Ranbir to keep doing the films that he is. There we disagree. Ranbir needs to get more script savvy. How about spending some time with Mr B just hanging around to see how he chooses his films?