Poonam Dhillon met Amitabh Bachchan in the late seventies when she was a mere teenager on the sets of Trishul. Poonam filmed her first shot on celluloid with mega star Amitabh carrying her in his arms! It wasn’t the least bit romantic on or off camera, as Poonam played his sister in the film and was too young to understand the full force of his stardom and the hysteria around him. Yet to get over the fabulous 70th birthday celebrations of Amitabh held on Wednesday evening in Mumbai, she speaks to Firstpost about the man, the superstar and the legendary actor:
Excerpts from the interview:
What was it like meeting the biggest star then, and now – Amitabh Bachchan – on the sets of Trishul?
My knowledge of films and the business was minimal at the time, but I knew Amitji was a big star. I was young, naïve and uninformed of the sheer might of his stardom then, which was good in a way because I was not intimidated by him and did my scenes naturally with him. He came across as an intense, kind and charming man who treated me very well on the sets. Had I been a little more mature and worldly-wise back then, I too, like millions of other women, would have been struck by his persona on set. But since I was just starting out in my career, the magnitude of working with him did not hit me then.
I still remember the first shot we did together vividly, even after 30 odd years of having filmed it. It was the first shot of my career and to commence it with an actor as talented as Amitji was just fabulous. There was this scene where I was injured due to an accident and I was bleeding. Amitji had to carry me in his arms and take me home to my father, played by the late Sanjeev Kumar. It was a heavy, dramatic scene and it’s always been special since it was my first scene ever. When we were shooting, I saw crowds of hysterical women screaming his name and once Amitji put me down, one of the women came up to me and asked me – “How does it feel to be in Amitabh Bachchan’s arms?” I didn’t know how to answer that! I was embarrassed, but secretly pleased that I was working with such a big star and one of the best actors in the world.
You never romanced Amitabh on screen, even though you worked with him in Trishul, Geraftaar – why?
Unfortunately, I was always told by filmmakers that I was too young to be paired with him romantically. I have always wanted to work with him as his leading lady, but it never happened then. Amitji’s not grown much older and I have matured now, so I think we could still be cast in leading parts opposite each other. The world may have aged, but not Amitji. I may have hinted to him on working together, but since I am very shy, I don’t think I had the courage to express in quite that manner. His energy is amazing! He is a complete human being in every sense – he’s educated, extremely patient, dedicated to his work, talented, good looking and with a fantastic sense of humour. He is an inspiration and a favourite of a large part of the population in the country. With each passing year, his life is turning more legendary.
Everyone wants to work with him – his dedication and seriousness at work is legend. Amitji is one of the most ideal role models – serious at work and absolute fun off it. I want my son Anmol, who is thinking of a career in films, to incorporate Amitji’s work methods. He is just so correct and perfect – at all times.
Last night at the party, we were all discussing his work and were awe-inspired by the vast portfolio he has – great films, great music, great directors and an audience that loves him immensely. Despite all the praise that comes his way, he is a very grounded man, and one of the most hard-working too, and very respectful of people.
Everyone wants Amitji’s attention – and it’s not easy being him when people demand his time. Everyone wants their very own “Bachchan moment” – and Amitji complies most of the time with a smile, a handshake, a picture, an autograph because he knows it will make people happy. That’s something, and a great achievement. Everyone whose life he touches, that moment becomes a highlight in their lives. I too have had the chance to make people happy just by attending a party or posing for a picture – it’s just a way of spreading happiness, especially if you’re a film star.
You interacted with him again on screen when you were a participant on the reality show, Bigg Boss in 2009, which unfortunately, wasn’t romantic in the least bit again!
Yes, that’s true! That was the first time Amitji was hosting the show and it was marvelous to meet him at work after so many years. The three months I was in the Bigg Boss house, we interacted once a week and to have him as the only contact in the outside world was fascinating.