After Black, it is back to Bachchan again for Bhansali.
“May I please see your horoscope?” I joked with Asia’s most vaunted entertainer. Do I need to specify who that is?
Mountainous in his stardom, untouchable, inviolable and uniquely positioned as the only 70-plus superstar of Bollywood.
Just when we had begun to wonder where he’d head from here, Sanjay Leela Bhansali provided AB with the answer.
I remember how moved and enriched Amitabh Bachchan had come away from the ‘Black’ experience. It’s very difficult to describe the unadulterated adulation that rightfully came Amitabh Bachchan’s way after ‘Black’. It’s the kind of unanimous anointment that happens to very very few artistes anywhere in the world.
What kind of praise? I wouldn’t even dare to venture there. Suffice it to say that as I stood with the Celluloid’s resident God at the premiere of ‘Black’ , I could see history being made in front of my eyes. Praise poured out of very personality that evening in the most natural tones conceivable.
No one was faking it. No one needed to. The raging passion of AB’s performance bolted across the screen hitting audiences in the solar plexus and thereafter the heart.
“Oof! ” said Urmila Matondkar. “Amitji just puts every leading man in the shade. What power, glory and perfection. The nuances that he brings to his character….wah! It’s just the most glorious moment of cinema I’ve seen!”
Rani Mukerji was right when she told me, “The smile just refuses to leave Amit Uncle’s face.”
I search the most famous face in showbiz for signs of stress. All I see is an artiste an actor and a humanbeing who has finally found his métier.
“It’s just crazy… The reaction to ‘Black’ from every one is unanimous. They’re all stunned. And frankly, so am I. Everyone from Dilip Kumar Saab to Shah Rukh Khan has opened his or her heart to lavish me with the kind of praise I’ve never heard before. It’s so genuine…and scary. Sanjay Bhansali has put me in a monstrous dilemma. Where do I go after ‘Black’? Nothing I do can match up. Nothing seems worth it…,” said Amitabh Bachchan.
AB is a perfectionist to the core, no doubt about it. He doesn’t agonize over his shots. He studies them with a concentration that a curator gives to the rarest of paintings.
Quite often the importance that AB gives to his films is ill-deserving. “’Black’ came to me at just the right time,” he says as I try to gauge the impact of his performance. AB is of no help in this matter. Habitually he shies away from self evaluation. Besides, ‘Black’ had numbed him.
“And why just me? Everyone who has seen it feels the same way. I’ll have to agree with you when you say no performance of mine has made the same impact. That’s because no filmmaker is Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I tell you, he has put me in a crisis. Nothing I do will ever measure up to the standards he has set,” he had confessed to me.
My mind again strolls back to the historic night of the premiere where AB stood looking demoniacally dapper in a black sherwani with a white churidaar. His excitement was palpable as all his guests from socialites and politicians to colleagues in the film industry trooped in.
Even Sanjay Dutt, turned up . “Amitji is my God. And I had to be here,” Dutt blurted out emotionally.
At an age when other actors fold up their tents he has attained a nirvanic freedom from definitions of stardom.
“I don’t know how it happened,” says Amitabh Bachchan’s favourite director Bhansali. “But I do know how precious his character Debraj Sahay was to Amitji. I know how much of himself he gave to it. He virtually breathed fire and life into every frame. Amitji holds the camera on his gaze. You can’t take your eyes off him in ‘Black’.”
Now all eyes are set on AB’s career. What does 2013 hold for him?