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Posted Friday , March 02, 2007 at 01:39
Updated Friday , March 02, 2007 at 14:58
He is India’s most recognizable face and arguably the greatest star in the Mumbai film industry. Over the years, he has been the one man who has towered over India's popular culture.
In the 1970s, he was the angry man of Bollywood. Two years back in Black, he belted out what was possibly his most outstanding performance in his filmy career spanning over three decades and over 150 titles.
This week, Amitabh Bachchan returns with yet another big bang, playing the controversial role of a 60-year-old man in love with an 18-year-old girl in his new film Nishabd.
The Big B was a special guest on the CNN-IBN show, Unspoken Relationships-Nishabd Show, where a panel comprising Nishabd director Ram Gopal Varma, ad guru Alyque Padamse, singer Suchitra Krishnamurthy, actress-filmmaker Revathi and noted Kuchipudi exponents Raja and Kaushalya Reddy debated the dos and don’ts of man-woman relationship in the Indian society. The show was moderated by Sagarika Ghose.
Nishabd is a love story between a 60-year-old man and an 18-year-old girl played by Amitabh Bachchan and Jiah Khan respectively. In the film, Bachchan is a professional photographer who is married to Revathi. Bachchan’s character gets attracted to his teenaged daughter’s friend, who comes to stay with them.
The attraction between the man and the girl is mutual, putting him in conflict with his feelings and his responsibilities towards his family. It inevitably leads to turmoil in his family life.
Sagarika Ghose: Amitabh Bachchan, when you first saw the script about a 60-year-old man falling in love with an 18-year-old girl, did you feel a sense of empathy with the character?
Amitabh Bachchan: The thing that attracted me was the fact that it was something different that we were attempting to do. For actors, it is very selfish to choose as many challenging roles as possible. This was a challenge for me. We very briefly discussed as to how Varma would treat the film. I liked what I read, particularly how it ended. We went ahead and did it.
Sagarika Ghose: You are someone who enjoys adulations from lots of young women who are 16 and 18. Do you think you could ever be in that situation where as an older person you could find yourself being drawn to energies of someone much younger?
Amitabh Bachchan: This is play-acting. This is fantasy. This is make believe. Seldom do we try and equate two regions.
I think that the concept of the story really is that we had not wanted to go into the fact as to how did this happen, why should it happen, what is society going to say, what do you feel about it. People could say that I am 65 and why am I doing this? It is not about all that. I think that is about a situation that has happened and it is there in the film. I don’t know why it happened, but it has happened.
Sagarika Ghose: Ram Gopal Varma, was that your motivation to make a film on a unique situation to show that love happens at unlike places?
Ram Gopal Varma: I don’t think that the point is about whether it is an old man, a middle-aged man or a young man. The point is about capturing a man’s feelings. The feeling doesn’t have an age. A feeling is a feeling. All these come from a certain programming, but if the feeling comes from within you, then there is nothing that can stop it. Then it is a question of the strength of your feeling vs your righteousness. Nishabd is basically about a conflict about these two.
Sagarika Ghose: So is it a battle between heart and mind?
Ram Gopal Varma: Yes.