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Chhote Sarkar is here!

ANUJ KUMAR

As "Dus" opens this Friday, Abhishek Bachchan makes an appraisal of the recent thrills in his career.


I believe people still come to theatres because I am Amitabh Bachchan's son and I am happy with it. ABHISHEK

PHOTO: SANDEEP SAXENA.

STILL STRIVING Abhishek Bachchan is anxiously waiting for his report card on "Sarkar".

When Abhishek Bachchan was launched as "Refugee", thousands of people turned up to see him shooting Rajasthan. Why? "Amitabh's son is shooting." Almost half a decade later, a period where he was criticised for his emotion-free face, his weight and everything else, the script changed.

Post "Yuva" and "Dhoom", people started thronging theatres to watch Abhishek Bachchan. Critics came up with a spin - industry has got an actor with the ability to mix explosive intensity with cool air. But does he have the range?

Cynics may have taken time to mould their comments but Abhishek showed glimpses of an actor when he played a shy suitor to perfection in "Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon." and a restrained lawyer in "Phir Milenge."That's history. Now the pup is basking in the glory of "Bunty aur Babli" and "Sarkar" - two scripts to test the range of an actor.

Has the Junior Bachchan finally arrived?

"No. I believe people still come to theatres because I am Amitabh Bachchan's son. I believe this will keep on happening and I am happy with it. As an actor, I realised the responsibility of being a star's son on the very first day.I am learning and I think I am improving with every film."

Friends in deed!

Impact of two films he has done with the God of Bollywood, who happens to be his father?

"Working with him has been a divine experience. We would go to the sets joking. Suddenly in the middle of the scene I would realise, boy! He is not only your father. He is Amitabh Bachchan. You are up against a force and you have to come up with something to counter it." Abhishek says on the sets they were just actors.

"He didn't give an inch because he is shooting with his son though in real life we are friends who could enjoy a song like `Kajrare Kajrare' together."

Abhishek is anxiously waiting for his report card on "Sarkar" once Amitabh gets free from his hectic schedule. "I didn't style Shanker on Michael of Mario Puzo. Though I like Al Pacino but there was no point in playing the character his way because Ramu has sketched new characters in a new milieu. He did ask me to read `Godfather', but I refused. "

He may have finally shed shackles on the screen, but Abhishek has yet to learn the candid ways of Bollywood. "I can't pose lying on the bed... I can't show attitude... despite the success of Bunty Aur Babli, I believe I still have a hundred limitations... all those who criticised me were right." Is it rehearsed modesty... a trait that runs in the genes?

Laughs Abhishek, "I believe in realism and believe me I can't exude an attitude in real life. I can't con people."

`Dus - a thriller'

For now it is his cool dude side, which is to the front. This week in "Dus" he is again playing a police officer out to save the country.

"`Dus' is a thriller with good music. It is more of an ensemble film. Number 10 plays an important part as the squad has to unearth the terrorist conspiracy before the 10th of the month." Shot in Calgary,Abhishek says the film has many gravity defying stunts involving bikes and cars but it's different from "Dhoom". "In `Dhoom' there was a mix of comedy and action, here the focus is on thrills."

Coming back to critical appreciation, Abhishek is ably mixing intense with cool. He has completed "Antar Mahal" with Rituparno Ghosh and has been cast by Karan Johar in his next film "Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna."

Isn't this ability to experiment early - mixing the popular with the pure - a welcome shift from his father, who managed to look into Govind Nihalani's lens when the actor was past his youth. He neither worked with the likes of Shyam Benegal nor ventured into regional cinema. "It's a matter of chance. I have done films that have been offered to me and I believed that I could do justice to these roles. Also definitions have changed. Today working with Mani Rathnam can't be called experimentation."

Time to settle down? "No time from shooting and being shot with media queries." The fun has just begun.

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