Apparently Bachchan Jr does not answer phone calls from unidentified numbers. So when Mani Ratnam called him up, he didn't take the call. Thank God for Bachchan's friend and Ratnam's former assistant Shaad Ali (Saathiya), who intervened and got the two talking.
That's how Bachchan landed a plum role in Yuva.
The 28 year-old's rustic and intense look as Lallan Singh, as seen in the promos of this much-awaited film, has come in for much appreciation.
Will Yuva be that elusive hit he has been waiting? The actor doesn't know. What he does know is this: try and try until you get it right.
In a candid interview to rediff.com, Abhishek Bachchan tells Chief Correspondent Syed Firdaus Ashraf why it is an honour to work with Mani Ratnam and about Yuva.
In Part II of the interview, which we will carry tomorrow, he talks of that elusive bird, success. Don't forget to log in.
Was Yuva made in Tamil and Hindi simultaneously? Were you involved in any aspect of the Tamil film?
The Hindi and Tamil versions of Yuva are separate. The only common things between the two are Esha Deol and the technicians. Both the films were shot separately and have a different star cast. They were not shot simultaneously. Yuva went on the floors first and then Tamil version too went on. But we never shot together.
What was working with someone as reputed as Mani Ratnam like?
Nothing short of GREAT! Mani, as we all know, is a highly acclaimed and respected director. It was definitely my dream to work with him. I am happy I worked with him early in my career. He is just brilliant. I do not have enough words to explain the experience of working with someone like Mani. It is a great honour to be in his film. Apart from what he does in films, he is also a great guy.
How did you bag a role in Yuva?
Mani was calling me and I didn't pick up the phone. I don't take a call unless I recognise the number that flashes on my screen as people uselessly call and disturb me.
Then Shaad [Ali], a dear friend of mine and his [former] assistant, called me. He told me Mani Sir wanted to get in touch with me. I asked why. He said Mani Sir wanted to meet me as he was in Mumbai. I said okay. When we met, Mani narrated the story of Yuva. He then asked me whether I would like to work with him. I thought that was bit weird [laughs]. I agreed immediately. That is how it happened.
What is Yuva's basic plot?
It is a story of three individuals -- Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi and my character. They live separate, independent lives. Until one incident brings them together.
From then on, destiny takes them in a different direction.
I cannot classify Yuva as an 'action film', a 'romantic film' or a 'dramatic film'. The only thing I am sure about is: it is a 'Mani Ratnam film'. He was behind the camera. So, obviously, it will be a good film. I hope Yuva turns out to be a good film for audiences too.
Tell us about your character in Yuva.
I play Lallan Singh who belongs to the streets of Kolkata. He has to fend for himself from a very young age. He has no parents, only an elder brother. Having grown up on the streets, he has developed certain traits. If he needs something, he does not ask for it. He goes and grabs it.
His main concern is his own survival. He does not bother what people say about him. He is a rugged character.
He is a very passionate person, regardless of what he is doing. If he loves you, he loves you to death. If he hates you, he can probably kill you. He is a very interesting and complex kind of person. It was enjoyable to portray this character.
Coming from well-to-do family background, how difficult was is for you, as an actor, to play a street guy without seeing the harsh reality of street life?
We are actors. Our job is to act. At the end of the day we have to remember we are acting.
I try to bring in as much realism as possible. I do that by becoming observant. I sit with the director and understand my character and what I need to bring out in that character.
If I come from a privileged family, it does not mean I cannot understand that character. Besides, Mani was very clear about Lallan Singh. It was not tough at all because he knew what he wanted from me in this film.
A R Rahman's music for Yuva is a hit. Which is your favourite number?
I like all the songs. Two songs have been picturised on me.
Mani and Mr Rahman have come up with a new sound and style.
All the songs are my favourites. It is very difficult to choose one among them. It is an enjoyable album.
How different is Mani Ratnam's style of working in comparison with that of Bollywood directors?
A director is a director.
Like every actor, each director has his own unique way of working. They have unique approaches to their art and craft. Mani is no different. Like other directors, he has his own style.
Every time you sign with a new director, you have to adjust and find a rapport with them. It is just that it takes time a rapport to form between an actor and a director when they work with each other for the first time.
There is no difference between a director from the south and a director from the north. We all are making a film.
This is an entertainment industry. We all want to make good films.
Any particular shot in Yuva that satisfied you immensely?
The whole film was creatively very satisfying. There is no particular day that I can remember [as being better than the others]. The entire making [of Yuva] is memorable for me.
Generally, Hindi films aren't shot at Kolkata. How come Yuva is set there?
I don't know! I guess, visually and cinematically, Kolkata suited the background for the film.
What was working with Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor and Esha Deol like?
It is wonderful to work with so many cast members. They are all my good friends.
In this film, I only had the opportunity to work [shoot scenes] with Vivek, Ajay and Rani.
I have worked with Rani in my earlier films. She is a good friend. Ajay is like an elder brother. This is the first time I am working with Vivek. He is a great actor.
It was one big team. It becomes like a family when you shoot a film outdoors. I only hope this reflects on the screen.
There was a great sense of camaraderie on the sets. If you have people like Ajay and Vivek on the sets, it will be fun. We kept fooling around.
But it was tragic when Vivek got hurt. We were supposed to finish the film in that schedule. We all were concerned about him.
Log in tomorrow to find out why success is still eluding Abhishek Bachchan. What are his plans for the future?