A few weeks ago, Amitabh Bachchan announced the digital release of his next film Gulabo Sitabo on his social media. He wrote, '…During this formidable period seen many changes and challenges .. NOW another challenge'. In a career spanning 51 years, he's taken the lead in embracing the constant changes and evolution in the movie business. In light of the Covid crisis, he will be one of the first actors to have a film that was meant for a theatrical release go straight to Amazon Prime. Over an email interview, he speaks about this and his long-standing relationship with director Shoojit Sircar.
You've had a long working relationship with Shoojit Sircar over several ad films and movies. By now have you developed some sort of short hand through which you'll understand what the other is thinking?
Short-hand is a most convenient secretarial dictation oriented attribute; cinema does not contribute to that. Never has, never will. To even suggest that Shoojit Sircar and I would, even after years of association, be in possession of any kind of work understanding would be a misinterpretation of mammoth proportions.
What I have developed over the years of working with Shoojit is an immense respect for his craft, his understanding of the subjects he chooses to make and the great cinematic guile he possesses in designing his characters. Directors are all-rounders. They possess immense qualities. They are script writers, screenplay setters, production designers, music directors, editors, actors and marketing and publicity gurus. Shoojit is in command of all these qualities .
Each time I have confirmation in my mind that this is what Shoojit is thinking, he comes out and destroys it by giving me much better options in my thoughts .
The most prominent part of your look in Gulabo Sitabo is the protruding nose. You've, of course, worked with prosthetics in several films. But how did you deal with the big nose and work it into the performance?
What I learnt from the makeup artist on GiBoSiBo was that the most identifiable feature in face prosthetics is the nose! Change just that and the entire face changes. That is what was executed after several trials and errors on the 'look'. Once that was settled we went ahead with the rest of the look – the eyes, the spectacles, the ageing etc… Nose well in place, did the rest. No particular 'dealing' was required of working it into the performance… I just nosed around – to make bad use of that popular adage!
You and Shoojit Sircar have an unreleased film called Shoebite. Shoojit says the pain of that will never go away. Is that what made it easier for the team of Gulabo Sitabo to opt for a digital release?
Shoebite, and its blocked release, is indeed a pain that shall never go away. But you have just added to that pain, by equating it wrongfully in your question, to the digital release of GiBoSiBo! No , of course, you cannot equate the two incidents. The producers felt that a digital release in these times of uncertainties was the best possible decision and they are going ahead with it. Of course, we shall all miss the theatre experience, but the circumstances have not been conducive and hence the decision to give it an OTT.
Shoebite is biting the edges of some studio's feet… GiBoSiBo soldiers on, or rather 'noses' on, on its own legs !
You said in an Instagram post that over 51 years you've seen the industry go through several challenges and you are honored to be a part of yet another one. It's a vulnerable time for the movies. What do you think the industry needs most to tide over this current crisis?
In these five decades of my association with the film industry, there has not been a single decade when it has not been 'plagued with a crisis' ; and there has not been a single decade when the industry has not fought its way out of it. The industry is over 100 years old . It has faced many challenges over the years and has come out victorious. It shall come out victorious even after this challenge!