Aishwarya Rai keeps Aaradhya grounded: Abhishek Bachchan opens up on family, Manmarziyaan

Abhishek Bachchan speaks about returning with Manmarziyaan, his film with wife Aishwarya Rai and how daughter Aaradhya is enjoying a normal childhood.

Updated: Sep 11, 2018 10:03:21

By Prashant Singh

After Manmarziyaan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will be seen in Gulab Jamun.

He was last seen on the big screen over two years back. Post that, Abhishek Bachchan quietly went on a self-imposed sabbatical after Housefull 3 (2016). But now, he is “raring to go”, starting with Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan. “For me, the difference [after the break] was more internal. I felt a lot more focused,” says Abhishek, about his life, why the break, new film and more.

Where have you been?

I have been around (smiles). I just took a bit of a break or sabbatical. But here I am, back with Manmarziyaan. I am really excited and happy with the way it has shaped up. I’m raring to go [as an actor] again.

Abhishek Bachchan with Manmarziyaan team -- Vicky Kaushal, Taapsee Pannu, Anurag Kashyap and Aanand L Rai.

Why the break, especially in the middle of your career? Did it help?

Yes, absolutely. It came very naturally to me. I thought it was time to take a break, re-evaluate and reassess what I was doing and how I was doing it. It was something that I had been thinking about for a long time. Then, one day, I finally took the plunge and I am happy I did. I think somewhere, a sense of complacency was starting to set in my work and I didn’t want that because I didn’t like it.

Do you think such a break can give a push to your journey as well as longevity as an actor?

Absolutely! I don’t know about the longevity part but it’s about how you want to take your journey forward, how you see yourself working, and what kind of work you want to do.

When you went for the break, did you not think about the cut-throat competition around and how such a break can have an adverse effect?

I was feeling all these things while I was working. So, I was quite sure that this is absolutely the right decision. When I actually stopped working, I had already made up my mind that this is what I need to do. Interestingly, when I started shooting for Manmarziyaan, I knew that decision was the right one because I could see and feel the positive influence of that break on my work. The kind of reactions we all got for the trailer proved to be a great validation that this was the right thing to do. Yes, there was a bit of trepidation and fear whether it’s the right thing to do. But the clear knowledge that this is something that I absolutely need to do, and the confidence that I would be able to carry on after a while and pick up things [from where I left off], was a lot stronger.

You have completed almost two decades in the industry (debuted with Refugee; 2000). How has the journey been?

Someone asked me, ‘oh, it’s been 18 years’ but I was like, ‘it doesn’t feel like that long’. It still feels like we are all newcomers. There’s the same exuberance, energy as well as enthusiasm. I just feel extremely happy and blessed. I think you have to realise that getting an opportunity to make movies and being a part of them is a gift. You should never take that lightly and must be thankful for that all the time.

Abhishek Bachchan plays a Sikh man in Manmarziyaan.

In Manmarziyaan, you play a Sikh man but not many know that your grandmother was also a Sikh. It must be a great feeling.

Of course! My grandmother was a Sikhni and I am sure she would have loved to see me like this. I hope she is smiling down from the heavens, seeing her grandson [play a Sikh].

We have heard that you are set to team up with your wife, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan again in Gulab Jamun…

It’s a very sweet script that both Aishwarya and I have liked a lot. It’s directed by a wonderful new director, Sarvesh Mewara, and will be produced by Anurag Kashyap and his company. But we still have to work out when we are going to do it. We are finishing work on the script but it’s something we [Aishwarya and he] definitely want to do.

Your wife, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was also back with Fanney Khan. Looks like we will get to see both of you much more now?

We have always been busy and working. Even when Aishwarya wasn’t making films, she was busy with her other work such as brand commitments etc. However, she is a completely hands-on mum, who is entirely involved in Aaradhya’s life.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan with daughter Aaradhya.

By now, does Aaradhya know that she belongs to a very famous family?

Aaradhya is a very sweet kid but I don’t think she understands that bit. She knows we are actors, who appear in films and on TV. She also realises that her dadi ma goes to the Parliament. But I don’t think she understands the concept of, ‘oh, my parents and grandparents are really famous people’. We have tried to keep things as normal as possible for her. Her mother teaches her all of that. Aishwarya is very good at keeping Aaradhya grounded.

You have, of course, managed it all with the a heavy surname, Bachchan…

It’s been a difficult job (smiles). But honestly, I never gave thought to any kind of pressure that came with me being my parents’ son. I have never let that [thought] weigh me down. I have been very clear that I have to do my work and tell my stories. Being part of films in not easy; it’s a very difficult job.

Coming to Manmarziyaan, how was working with Anurag Kashyap in an Aanand L Rai film?

It was magical. It took me almost two days to get used to Anurag because we all have a preconceived notion about how he is going to be. You think that he will be this dark, brooding, intense person, who would be sitting alone. But in reality, he is always jumping around and totally different. At first, I was like, ‘kaun ho bhai tum, Anurag kahaan hai’. He just disarms with the amount of love that he gives his actors. As for Aanand, he is such a successful film-maker, and has a unique point of view and voice, but he allowed Anurag to do what he wanted to do, without any influence at all. That takes immense strength and guts.

After the break, how do you plan on going about films?

I have managed to fill almost the entire next year with work and that’s the way I want to do it. I want to continuously be working and would like to do a lot of work. As soon as Manmarziyaan releases, I will start my next film. Makers will be announcing it very shortly. But yes, the coming years are going to be full of work.

First Published: Sep 11, 2018 10:02:30


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