Abhishek Bachchan can be quite a brat.
The first time we met years ago, I was sitting with his father in their home when he barged in. After sitting quietly for a while Abhishek piped in, “So, who do you think is a better actor Amitabh Bachchan or Naseeruddin Shah?”
Then, there was this other time when I visited his father after a major surgery. Abhishek stood in one corner and passed cocky comments until I simply stormed out with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, whose mouth fell open at what had just transpired. To his credit Abhishek called to apologize minutes I left in a huff.
Now that we are both older and hopefully a little wiser we can laugh at those exchanges.
Abhishek and I share a very special bond. I was the first journalist who interviewed him, thanks to his Dad who insisted it can be no other way. There have been numerous attempts by spiteful mediapersons to cause a rift between the Bachchans and I. But Abhishek has stood his ground whenever mischief makers have stepped in.
That is rare. Stars are generally willing to believe the worst about media persons.
I will never forget how he stepped in when a bratty Khan superstar insisted on “entertaining” me in a supremely sozzled state in my hotel room at 3 am. Abhishek showed up as the saviour in the same hotel with his friends and rescued me from the sodden superstar by texting him out of my hotel room.
We had a mob stampede-like situation in front of our home when Abhishek visited for the first time. The only time we had a bigger crowd of gawkers was when the senior Bachchan visited. But that was in another league altogether. This was pure unalloyed hero-worship brought to my doorstep.
I love having Abhishek home. There is no pressure on us of having a star in the house. Abhishek is truly a people’s person. And he can take all the jokes, barbs, taunts , digs, jibes about living in his illustrious Dad’s shadow. In fact Abhishek makes digs himself about living in his Dad’s shadows.
The truth is, Abhishek has not realized his full potential as an actor. And he is to be blamed for this.
He won’t like my saying this. But he is one of the worst role-choosers in the film industry. Among the many films Abhishek turned down were Mani Ratnam’s Saathiya and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan. Instead he did his friend Goldie Behl’s Drona and Rohan Sippy’s Bluff Master.
Both are directors who can only spell trouble for actors. I wish Abhishek had not mixed the business of acting with the pleasure of friendship. Once, only once did he prove me wrong. On the sets of Shaad Ali’s Bunty Aur Babli Abhishek was shooting 'Kajra Re' with his Dad and future wife.
‘What do you think of the song?’ he asked me during a break from the jig.
I made a face.
‘You watch. This will be the biggest ever,’ Abhishek prophesied.
It was, and Abhishek, I wish you would prove me wrong more often. I wish you’d realize your forte is sensitive roles. You should do your father’s Abhimaan with Aishwarya.
I promise I won’t compare your performance to your Dad’s. And I promise I won’t storm out if it gets nasty.