Friday, 22 August 2008

"This is getting extremely embarassing and I'd like to leave now with your kind permission", Amitabh Bachchan from the Unforgettable Tour in London

exclusive by Devansh Patel

"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Firstly our apologies for being late. We've just got off the plane from New York, baggage, getting dressed and trying to cope with the jet lag has been taking its toll. That's why I'm wearing dark glasses. I hope that you'll understand. It's been several years since I've been on a concert of this nature and I'm truly enjoying the experience. It's not my age to be on stage anymore but I'm being provoked by the youngsters and the younger generation. The fact that this is going to give me another oppurtunity to meet the fans and to be with the audiences has got me on board. We've had a wonderful trip so far and as we approach our last leg, we do look forward to giving it that little bit extra in the last miles, as we all say. Thank you for your support. Media, you've been wonderful with us throughout this tour and we hope you'll continue doing that. We truly appreciate the contribution of Wizcraft for putting up a show which has surpassed some of the previous efforts that have been done by us. Once again, Thank you so much for being here everyone". With this speech, everyone sitting in the Press Conference put their hands together for one man who has brought and is bringing the Indian Film Industry and it's lovers across the globe together with each passing day - The indespensable and the undisputed, Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away. Unforgettable Tours London Press Conference was just that apt moment for those who love and cherish Indian Cinema. So, Bollywood Hungama's Devansh Patel brings you the exclusive chit-chat with the Unforgettable Stars from London's St James Park Hotel where the entire gang interacted with the U.K media, strangely, in a very fun loving and a humorous mood after a long one hour wait. Well, let me tell you, it was worth the wait!

Q. Being a live show, how did you physically train yourself with the stress levels?
Amitabh Bachchan - Oh dear. Thank you for reminding that I need physical training (everyone laughs). I think that we all have a routine every morning or evening or whenever we work in front of the camera. When the show was initiated, I think that we needed to get a little more energy because there is a lot of singing and dancing. Being on stage live is a totally different experience from being in front of the camera where you have the benefit of re-takes. But Yes, we've been doing our regular gyms and rehearsals for over three months and hopefully it's working well.

Q. This goes out to everyone on the panel. Out of all the performances, except your own, whose performance did you enjoy the most?
Amitabh Bachchan - Vishal and Shekhar (everyone laughs).
Preity Zinta - We all liked each others performances but above all, Mr Bachchans dialogues. That was my favourite part from the Tour.
Riteish Deshmukh - I agree with Preity. I think when Amitji recites his lines, it's extremely emotional and gets difficult to perform after that.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - The whole show is awesome. We've genuinely enjoyed all the performances. But Pa's dialogues are just totally in the movement. Every entertainer works and performs for the audience. So it's the audiences response which is the most memorable at every venue. They've just been exceptional.
Abhishek Bachchan - Having Dad on the Tour is a great honour for all of us present on the dias right now. Needless to say, he is a star attraction. Whenever he is on stage, everybody backstage just stops everything and focuses on his performance. Coupled with that, I'd like to believe that the show is very interactive and the way the audiences have performed has been truly unforgettable.
Amitabh Bachchan - For me it's a little bit depressing backstage when I watch these youngsters move (other actors laugh) because I can't move like that now. I feel depressed and I hope that some day I'll be able to do what they do on stage.
Abhishek Bachchan - he comes out on the stage and knocks us straight out (other actors laugh).
Vishal Dadlani - Yeah...and then comes out on the stage and says 'Aaj Khush Toh Bahut Hue Honge Tum, Haiii?' (Amitabh Bachchan laughs)

Q. How strenuous has the schedule been for you so far?
Preity Zinta - It's been hectic because we've been travelling the world over but it's been fun. I think the most hectic has been last nights travel. None of us has slept on the plane. But we're here in London and it's nice to see such a big gathering. There is a lot of excitement and fun associated with this Tour. So you don't feel the stress that much.

Q. How much of the show is really rehearsed and is there something somewhere, some kind of a surprise for the London show?
Wiz Viraf Sarkari - The show is absolutely rehearsed. Preity Zinta - Not when Abhishek is there (laughs).Wiz Viraf Sarkari - We've been rehearsing before we kick started the show for about a month in Mumbai. Every last performance happens to be a rehearsal for the next performance. I think there are some special moments in the show especially when the stars are jamming into each others acts.

Q. How is the London show going to be different from the other shows you've done so far in the Unforgettable Tour?
Amitabh Bachchan - Oh! (After a pause) We have Shilpa Shetty in this one (everyone laughs).Preity Zinta - When we had this show in San Fransico, my brother came for the show. I asked him how did he find the show, to which he said that it is the best show he has ever seen because everything he knew about Indian Films was a part of this show. He could really identify with it. I think that's why the show is different and hope that you come and see and....
Abhishek Bachchan - (completes Preity's answer)....have the same opinion.
Preity Zinta - Sorry I am a bit slow (laughs)

Q. The Tour must have been a special one for you Mr Bachchan as you must have spent some quality time together with your family?
Amitabh Bachchan - All of us are just one big family. It's not just the three of us. It is great fun being together. We often don't get time in Mumbai even though we are in the same city working on different films in different studios near by, live near each other. We do not get time to even see each other. That goes for the members of my immediate family as well. We all live under the same roof but many a times days goes by and we don't see each other because of our shooting schedules. But this has been a wonderful experience. We travel together, move together, perform together, laugh together, pull each others leg after the show is over. I hope that we can spend many more days like this.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - Riteish said something really sweet yesterday. He turned around and said that as soon as we go back we all are just going to keep coming for breakfast and lunch and dinner as often as we can. We must meet up if we could because it's the Unforgettable Team continues as we go back. We are begining to feel it now. The time we've spent together has been so wonderful and we are all feeling the same way as Riteish.

Q. Is the brand Bachchan for world domination?
Amitabh Bachchan - (After a pause) No! (everyone laughs)

Q. What sort of happiness do you get by doing a live performance as suppose to the one in front of the camera?
Amitabh Bachchan - Good question. I think that when you're on stage and perform live it is far more fulfilling experience than when you're performing in front of the camera not knowing what kind of reaction you'll get. Because here the reaction is immediate, because visually you can see what it's doing to you, what you're doing to the audience. I think it's a lot more satisfying which is why when Aishwarya said that it's the audiences performance which is keeping us going and on stage. When we hear the screams and the roars and the applause, that provokes us and gives us that extra energy to perform better. I doubt very much if that kind of experience happens in front of the camera. It's just a very muted performance without reactions. At the most you get the director coming out and telling you that it was a goos shot. A lot of time passes since we start working on a film. Sometimes a year before you can actually get to hear that appreciation or not. Here this is a lot more enjoyable.
Q. How does this Tour compare with your other Tours?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - The tour is unforgettable for multiple reasons. We always feel unfair when you ask us to compare the tour experiences, film experiences or any of our work experiences because each one at that given point of time is extremely special. We give our all to it and we come out all enriched with experience that down the line if you ask us to choose, its like telling her mother to choose between her kids. But this Tour personally for me is extremely special because this is my first Tour with the love of my life (hugs Abhishek) and its his first world Tour. It will always be like...We did this together. It's again special because it's got my mother-in-law and she is here with us too. Moments spent with her were memorable and will be cherish for a long long time (everyone claps)
Preity Zinta - I'd like to be a bit humorous. Actually this is the first time that another heroine has taken care of me. So if I go to have lunch or dinner at her apartment or room, she always serves me and takes care of me. So I think that's pretty unforgettable (all laugh). I've always been pampered by Aish and there will never be a Tour like this again. So I'd like to thank Wizcraft and Mr Bachchan and everyone on this Tour. As a performer, its a different story all together seeing Mr Bachchan perform. And really...I've grown up watching Sholay and watching his films. So it's amazing and I know that such thing will never happen again (all applaud)Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - I'd like to add the fact that even though today I'm family and I do call him 'Pa' and that kind of comfort level, you know but it's just over a year now since I'm a part of the Bachchan family. I've been a part of this industry for a while and to grow up watching Pa's films is an honour. It's a dream to be doing this show with him. I am so glad Pa agreed to be a part of this Tour. He is a legend here.....
Amitabh Bachchan - (humorously)....This is getting extremely embarassing and I'd like to leave now with your kind permission (all laugh out loud).
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - No way.
Amitabh Bachchan - Stop!! (then smiles)
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - You're too sweet (laughs)

Q. This is your first world tour Riteish. Hows the experience been like and what steps have you taken to support the climate change which is associated with this tour?
Riteish Deshmukh - It's quite strange because I just finished shooting a film with Amitji. (looking at Mr Bachchan) Sorry Amitji, apologies but I had to mention it. As a child when I used to watch his films I was like ....Oh man! It's Amitabh Bachchan film. I never dreamt that one day I'd be doing a film with him. To share any kind of screen space and stage space with him is an honour and I'll always cherish it. The day when Abhishek called me for the world tour about a year and a half back, I immediately said, 'Let's go and have fun'. They've really taken care of me. As I've mentioned before many times that I am the youngest member of the Tour and the youngest one is the most loved one. I got to know Vishal and Shekhar and Preity a lot more through this tour. I got to know Aish know as well better. I am glad that because of Wizcraft, this day has seen the light of the day. About the climate change, about couple of years ago I got aware of the seriousness of this issue and what we could do to help it. I watched the ads all over and people talking about it. I do what I can do to support this cause and I think we need to take actions at our own level to make a change at a larger level.

Q. What does the Unforgettable Tour represent to you especially at this time at the world rennaisance for cinema and given the fact that three decades ago you took it from India to International shores?
Amitabh Bachchan - I think initially what it demonstrates is the resilience of Indian cinema and the fact that our presentations and our performances and the way we come out to perform has not only increased in numbers but increased in the way it's presented. I keep repeating this story again and again. In 1973 I came out with Jaya and was invited for a show in Southall and there were five people in the theatre. Two were Jaya's relatives and there were three ushers. Now we've matured to huge venues and a large number of people coming out to see us, the most memorable for me was at the Wembley Stadium. So every year with the awareness of Indian Cinema growing across Indian shores and different parts of the world, this is great news and if we can through our concerts and meet and greets and our performances create that atmosphere where our films are going to be watched by a larger number of people then I'm very happy to be associated with this. The entire film fraternity - my colleagues, my seniors, my juniors, they've all worked very hard with a great amount of confidence and aggression to make sure that the legacy of Indian cinema continues.

Q. What is the nature of your relationship with the Indians in India and abroad?
Amitabh Bachchan - Well, primarily we're really proud of our country, our history, our culture. It goes to thousands of years. We're proud of the fact that we fought for our Independence and the largest democracy in the world and we're really proud now that the way India is progreesing after the economic liberalisation. India today is a recognised force and I hope to see that India is no longer referred to as the third world country or a developing nation asnd should be referred to as developed nation (everyone applauds). Those that chose to go out of India and settle abroad and work, one must acknowledge their desire to do so but what I have noticed is that inspite of them going out and settling abroad, they still have never forgotten their roots and that's why we come and relate with them.

Q. You've been writing on your blog throughout the Tour. Are you really enjoying the process of writing it?
Amitabh Bachchan - I've not been just writing during the tour. I'm now on Day 120 (i) and as soon as I get off from this Press Conference, I'll start the Day 121. I just feel that it's a wonderful medium to express myself, to express thoughts and ideas that come to me, to be able to connect to my fans and well wishers on a daily basis and an immediate basis. I know that the media, through it's wonderful medium, will transfer the relationship that we have with you through your newspapers and television. Blog is something where we get to talk to them directly. We get their responses directly. It's a wonderful experience and I don't have to see the morning papers to check out what I said or what my reactions are or to wait for a week or a month to get a feedback in reverse as to what that particular article meant to several people. I write my thoughts and within seconds, at times even faster, I get a response and that's marvelous. I think very large percentage of those who visit my blog are complimenting. There are abuses as well, there is dislike and debate and there is discussion too. I encourage that. I do not ask my server to monitor any remarks that comes to me because I think that's important to give space to people who do not agree with you. It's wonderful to know that the whole world does not have to necessarily agree with what you have to say just because you happen to be a film star. I'm very happy what I'm doing and hope to continue that (everyone applauds).
Q. Who was the brains behind this Tour and who selected whom for this Tour?
Amitabh Bachchan - All of us, everyone's brains. All of us selected each other (everyone laughs and then applauds).

Q. There are so many other causes to support. So why only climate change, why not poverty? Climate change is a western cause which is finding its way back home in India. Did you find the cause or did the cause find you?
Amitabh Bachchan - When IIFA was celebrated in Yorkshire, thats the first time two years ago that Wizcraft International and the founding committee decided that we would acknowledge the cause of global warming. There was an association called 'Global Cool' which was based outside England and we joined hands with them and are very strongly behind it. When we took this cause with this tour, we thought that this was something universal. We felt it would be out of place to be performing in Houston for a village in India and we felt that if we're touring the entire world, we should look at a cause that encompasses everyone. I think that all of you would agree that global warming is indeed a universal cause that all of us should look after. You mentioned it being a cause too western. I think that is not entirely correct. I think all of us are victims of global warming. It could be that the U.S and the developed world is largely responsible for the emmissions. But in time to come with India developing and the kind of development that is taking place, we will also be victims of the same kinds of emmissions and therefore perhaps the West is trying to warn us to take pre active measures before we get into a situation that they are in now presently. I think that is very wise. At this years IIFA in Bangkok we had the good fortune of honoring Dr Pachauri whose work on environment got him the noble peace prize. During his lecture which he gave at the business forum we were made aware of several other factors which we were terribly excited and moved with. One was the idea of growing more trees and joining a campaign of a billion tree program. I'm happy to state that we have now managed to go beyond the billion figure. Dr Pachauri also stated that 33% of the world is still without electricity. It's a little contrary to global warming to try and work with electricity. But he wanted to use Solar energy to try and get electricity to the villages. A large number of that 33% comes from India. Hopefully through this Tour we will be able to atleast contribute to one village. As the Tour goes to different countries we want to increase the number of villages we can lend our support to. He has given us all a solar lantern. It's a kind of system that is well prevalent now in some of the villages in India and we hope to be able to propogate that (all stand up and applaude).

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