'What has age to do with acting?'
Sad, angry, reflective, vulnerable and all too human... In the second part of his interview with Vir Sanghvi, Amitabh Bachchan reveals more of his true self:
How did it feel to do ads? You had refused to do them throughout your career.
On the benches of Marine Drive? But you were from a good family, you had a very successful job in Calcutta.
I had left all that because I had a desire to work in the movies. I didn't have a place to stay. You know there is a limited amount of time you can spend with friends because you're barging into their house. So I spent a couple of days on Marine Drive benches with some of the largest rats I have seen in my life.
The whole intention was to act. They were rough times, but I had landed up, as I said, with my driver's license and said that if I didn't make it as an actor, I would ply taxis.
There were opportunities then too, when ad agencies approached me. I was offered Rs 10,000 for an ad, which was huge money since I was earning Rs 50 a month doing radio spots. But I felt doing an ad would take something away from me and I just resisted the temptation. Eventually, when I had to do ads for the corporation, it was very awkward for me.
What needs to be said is that people had invested money in the company. One of the prominent factors we had sold them was that, sing songs, cut albums, do ads, and collect revenues for the company.
Can I ask you the obvious question? When you came out of retirement, I don't think I'm revealing any secrets by saying that producers were offering you Rs 3 crore (30 million) per movie. You could have signed seven movies for Rs 3 crore each and made a huge sum of money. Why didn't you do that? Why go into ABCL?
In retrospect, do you think people got the impression that you were on the make, that you were ready to do anything -- even sign ads -- just to make money? Do you realise, in retrospect, that you did not communicate adequately enough what you intentions were?
I didn't feel the necessity to do that. The profile of the company was a public document. The public had access to it. Our entire activity was spelt out there. It was for everyone to see and read. I can't give clarifications all my life.
Also, why would I spend so much of my energy and time in creating a new concept if the intention was only to make money? I was losing sleep, I was losing money, I was losing whatever little creativity I had.
I think it is very unfair and unjust to say that I was involved in it because I wanted to make money.
During my 30-year career, one of the accusations that used to come my way was that you've never invested back into the film industry. You've invested in pharmaceuticals, in this and that. But you've never invested your money back into the industry. But here, I felt, was one activity that was very genuine. I really was putting money back to raise the standard of working in the industry.
In retrospect, what do you think went wrong with ABCL?
I think perhaps, in many ways, I myself should be the person bearing the blame.
Why do you say that?
If I was to rewind your life five years back, would you start ABCL again?
Yes. I think it was a very noble cause, a new concept, very remarkable, very unique. The best part is that there are hundreds of others now following this pattern. I don't know whether it is succeeding or not but at least it has initiated a consciousness among them.
Let's talk a little about your film career. People are saying, why doesn't Amitabh Bachchan retire, he is not young any longer. How do you respond to that?