AMITABH BACHCHAN TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW FILM,TE3N AND WHY HE IS ENAMOURED BY THE CITY OF JOY
There is perhaps no city as narcissistic and so hungry for praise than Kolkata. But Kolkatans love it more if an outsider indulges in its flattery. And who better to hear praise from, than Kolkata’s most famous Amitabh Bachchan. At the premier of in Kolkata, Bachchan did just that, giving references to his time in the city. He reminisced about things and places that were close to his heart and things that weren’t. “As many of you know, I spent my initial years here. What makes Kolkata special for me are its people who are very passionate,” said Bachchan in his famous baritone. The audience at Inox South City preened a little at the compliment. “They have great respect for art and culture and are still quite knowledgeable about cinema. You won’t see them wander into the frame. With Sujoy Ghosh—the creative director of the film—showed me a side of Kolkata that I haven’t seen before. I went to
NShantiniketan which was an experience I will cherish,” he said. Other than Shantiniketan and its obvious connect with Tagore, there’s also another literary connect with the film. “In the south Kolkata apartment we shot in, one of the almirahs had a hand-written note by author Sarat Chandra, which has been preserved all these years. I find these little things fascinating,” said Bachchan.
is drawing Kolkatans to the cineplexes to see how their beloved city has been portrayed on the silver screen. But apparently shooting in Kolkata wasn’t always on the cards. “We were initially supposed to shoot this film in Goa but I think it ran into a few permission issues and some logistical problems. I’ve lived in Kolkata and was aware of its sizeable Anglo-Indian population and I asked why not Kolkata? So we came here,” says Bachchan.
Bachchan’s avatar in the film, though a Kolkatan, is very different from the exaggerated Bengaliness of “John Biswas is an AngloIndian Bengali. To play him, Ribhu said that he didn’t want me to do anything that is very expected. He also didn’t want me to have any kind of Bengali accent. We deliberately kept it very simple and unaffected. We kept John Biswas a very middleclass Anglo-Indian Bengali man. He’s about my age,” he said.
Comparisons were drawn not just to his character in but also the fact that too has him riding a two-wheeler, in this case, a scooter. “I haven’t been on a scooter for a long time, having last ridden one in my university days in Delhi. I was quite flummoxed when Ribhu said I’d have to ride one and he sent a scooter to my place. Here, I’d practise in Kolkata’s Maidan when it was sure to be empty and that was an interesting experience. But between the scooter and bicycle, I would pick the bicycle. A scooter is tough,” says Bachchan.
Here’s hoping that Kolkata’s audience isn’t.