SUBHASH K. JHA
It was dream come true for Ram Gopal Varma as he directed Amitabh Bachchan in `Sarkar,' releasing today.
AURA OF THE PERSONA: Amitabh Bachchan in Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar with Abhishek.
Written by director Ram Gopal Varma's discovery, Manish Gupta, "Sarkar" is the story of a very unique father-son relationship. It shows the friction between a father and son, similar to Ramesh Sippy's "Shakti," made over three decades ago. The difference now is that Bachchan plays the father instead of the son.
He's cast as `Sarkar,' who runs an extra-constitutional government, almost a law unto himself.
The actual dramatic tension starts when his son (Abhishek Bachchan,) returns from abroad with ideas on morality and constitutional correctness.
Besides the casting coup of the Bachchans, the film has K. K. Menon, Tanisha (Kajol's sister) and Katrina Kaif in key roles.
Supriya Pathak returns to cinema after a long hiatus to play Amitabh Bachchan's wife.
Ram Gopal Varma talks about the Bachchans and "Sarkar." Excerpts:
First comment on the choice of the Bachchans for the roles.
To me Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan are completely different actors. And even if they weren't related I'd still want them for the two roles in "Sarkar."
For me, the characters dictate the actors. And "Sarkar" demanded Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan. I've essentially built on the Vijay persona that Salim-Javed wrote for him in the 1970s.
The father-son combination has generated a lot of interest.
It would. I designed "Sarkar" for Amitabh Bachchan. Abhishek came in later. Like most moviegoers I grew up watching the senior Bachchan doing amazing things on screen. I took my time to conceive a role that would showcase Amitabh Bachchan the way I wanted to see him. Were it not for Mr Bachchan I wouldn't have made "Sarkar."
After "Black" his performance in your film would be carefully watched....
Personally I don't like seeing Mr Bachchan in a film like "Black." For me, he's a superstar. I'm not interested in seeing him as an actor. I want to see him larger than life.
But he's a brilliant actor!
I'm not denying that. But to me, his stardom is what his talent is all about. I think he's the only actor in Indian cinema who can hold the camera without saying a word.
It's almost a cliché to say that you dreamt of working with Amitabh Bachchan.
Every director says the same. But I had the arrogance to think I could make him do things he had never done before. What happened was the opposite. Mr Bachchan has taken "Sarkar" much beyond where I could ever take it.
Did you feel intimidated? As a director I'm always prepared. There was no question of feeling intimidated.
When Mr Bachchan came, he grew on us. I didn't know who he was. Then one day I saw him in "Zanjeer," "Deewaar," "Sholay" ... His personality grew in my mind. As for Abhishek, he came in as Amitabh Bachchan's son, so the expectations were extraordinarily high. And then on top of that Abhishek was made to do all those NRI films, which didn't suit him.
If Mr Bachchan followed up "Zanjeer" with those Rajesh Khanna films from the earlier era, I doubt he would be such a big star.
Do you think the writers Salim-Javed had a lot to do with Mr Bachchan's stardom?
I don't think the director or writer can be credited with his success. It all depends on right timing.
But you came close to working with Abhishek on several occasions.
Yes, I knew there was an incredible dignity and the hero in him. When I finally worked with him, the novelty struck me.
I think Abhishek is a very, very different actor from his father. Abhishek is extremely perceptive. His understanding of life is more contemporary than mine or Mr Bachchan's.
Was ``Godfather" an inspiration?
Yes, the two Bachchans' roles are inspired by Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. But Brando plays a man who uses the loopholes in the law to run an organised crime. In "Sarkar," Amitabh Bachchan plays an incredibly self-righteous man.
Well, would you say there is a resemblance to Mr Bal Thackeray?
The story is fiction but based on real situations. To that extent, Mr Bachchan's character is based on someone real. If a man like Bal Thackeray can evoke respect, awe and fear in thousands of people who would lay down their lives for him, irrespective of which political party he belongs to, then yes. "Sarkar" is also about a man who evokes the same passionate loyalty from the people around him.
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