Excerpts from the interview:
• When did you first become aware that you were Amitabh Bachchan's son?
From as early as I can remember because for us at home it was never like, “I am Amitabh Bachchan's son”. He was always ‘Pa' for us. That's something my mother always made sure of. I was never led to believe that I was the son of this great actor and so I was special.
• Did you ever resent being Amitabh Bachchan's son?
Never never... and I don't think that will ever happen because I thank god everyday that I have been born into the family that I am born into and that I have the loving parents I have.
• Did you ever want to be anything other than an actor?
As a child you have different ambitions everyday. I was no different. But amongst those ambitions, I also wanted to be an actor and acting is the one that stayed with me. As a kid I wanted to be a fireman, astronaut, race car driver, business tycoon. As a kid you are forever dreaming and then I realised that here is a job in which you can be everything at the same time.
• What about acting comes easily to you?
I don't know what comes most easily to me. Maybe just the acceptance of the environment because this is the world I grew up in, this is the world I know.
• And what is difficult?
There are certain scenes and emotions that are difficult to tackle. But that is how it should be, you shouldn't do an easy job.
• How do you overcome such moments?
At that moment, it's sheer desperation. You come up against a road block and you do whatever it takes to overcome it. You dig deep and pull out all the stops, just go for it.
• Do you find yourself referencing your dad?
With an actor of his caliber, he is a standard, a reference point for every actor.
• Did you ever watch any Rajesh Khanna films?
No, I never really saw his films. As a kid I always saw dad's films.
• In retrospect, how do you react to the flak your wedding invitee list got?
What flak? That was created by the media. I was switched off it. It was my once-in-a-lifetime wedding. I didn't want anything to alter what I felt at that time period of time. I had no idea what was going on outside my gates. For me I was going to get married to the person I loved and that was going to be my favourite memory. I don't pay heed to these kinds of things. Do I make a big deal about the invitation list? No. I don't expect to be invited anywhere and I don't think anybody said, ‘Oh, I should have been invited.' Nobody said that to me. If they have a problem they come and talk to me and I will tell them the reasons behind it. The people invited were just very close friends and family. People tend to forget I had an ailing grandmother in the hospital and it was a conscious decision on the part of the family to keep the celebrations to a minimum. I would have loved to call the entire film fraternity. Yes this is where I work, these are my people. Could I? No, and I think people should respect that and if they don't, then, it's their problem.
• How did you deal with the 17 failures you had at the beginning of your career?
You have to deal with it. You do whatever it takes. I have always been uncomfortable talking about myself because I am not that kind of person. Some people understand it some people don't, some people accept it, some people don't. I am fine with it. My only focus at that point of time was to carry on working. The minute you start thinking about the negatives, you become a bitter person. And I am not bitter, I never want to be and I don't like bitter people.
• Was it difficult?
Of course, it was. I was replaced in films, I was thrown out of the films and my films shut down halfway. It's not a pleasant feeling. Do I make a big deal out of it? No. As compared to the struggle of other people, mine looks small. Many people don't know that when I decided to be an actor, for a year I didn't have a job. Some people might have thought that, ‘Oh, he is Mr Bachchan's son; he would get a job easily. And I know close to 30 directors, who are some of the big directors who said to my face, “No sorry, we don't want to make a film with you.” It's not like I had a line of producers outside my house. I have been to a lot of producers and directors requesting them to work with me. Thankfully JP saab came over and said, ‘I want to work with you' and he was the first person who did and I readily accepted. So how do you deal with it? Try and be positive and keep working hard.
By the grace of God, I have a wonderful family. I was never made to look like an underachiever or a loser. They are very supportive and always encouraging, that is not to say that they are blindly supportive. If they saw a film of mine which didn't like they would say so and tell me how to improve. They never said, ‘Oh, you are hopeless. Forget it!' There was a point in time when I thought that about myself because when you repeatedly fail and that too on public platform and you are humiliated on a public platform, Friday to Friday, after a period of time, your zest, your confidence goes flying out of the window and you start believing it. When you have 15-16 flops in a row, common sense kicks in, saying ‘Wait a second, obviously you don't know anything, you are doing something wrong and maybe you shouldn't be doing this.' I had no confidence. I couldn't go out in public because I genuinely believed that I had failed. Then I went up to my father and said, ‘I think, I have made a mistake and I have paid for it dearly and maybe I am not meant to be actor.' He said, “I have not brought you up to be a quitter, I have brought you up to be fighter. Keep at it. I am telling you, I am going to be your biggest critic. I am telling you that you are improving with film after film. Do whatever you get. Whatever role, small role, big role, just do it. Spend time in front of the camera so that you get the opportunity to improve and eventually prove your worth.' And that's what I did. I dived into work, whatever I got, I did, and thankfully after a while they started accepting me.
• How important is marriage?
It's a wonderful institution. I won't say I am going to recommend it. If you want to get married, get married. It's a personal choice. I have taken the step to stay with the woman I love and care for. I am happy I did. It has been a wonderful wonderful journey so far.
When you repeatedly fail and are humiliated, that too on a public platform, Friday to Friday, after a period of time your zest, your confidence goes flying out of the window and you start believing you are worthless
• And kids?
Kids are great. I think part of the reason why you want to get married is that you want to settle down and start a family and have kids. I think two should be good. Ham do hamare do.
• Are you part of Dhoom 3?
Dhoom 3 is not being made as of now. If Adi Aditya Chopra decides to make it, I am pretty sure Ali and Jay would be apart of it. It's their story, it's their franchise, unless they want to take a U-turn and change it completely. Dhoom 2 has been my biggest hit and that's the character I enjoyed working on.
• For years numerologists said you should drop your surname and you resisted. Do you feel vindicated now?
I don't feel vindicated. I think it's foolish and stupid to even suggest it. Why would I want to drop my surname? I am very proud of being a Bachchan. I am what I am because I am a Bachchan. I don't understand the theory behind changing my name. I have a name which my grandfather gave me. I carry it with great pride and I am not going to change it because somebody else wants to change it. Your film is not going to work because you change the spelling of your name. Destiny is written for you and you have to aid it by working hard.
• Kareena has said that she has always had space in her heart for you…
Bebo has always said that. She was my first heroine and she will always be special for me. She is not only a very sweet girl but also one of the finest actresses. We started our journey together. So she is always special to me.
• So will you work with her?
Of course, I will. People keep saying that I refuse to work with her. The fact is that nothing worthwhile has come up.