© Provided by Hindustan Times© Provided by Hindustan Times Ram Gopal Varma, who first became enamoured of the emotive brilliance of Amitabh Bachchan’s performance in Khuddar, believes casting the megastar in Nishabd and Aag was a mistake.
“… If somebody argues that Amitji had no business doing those films without knowing what he was getting into, yes, he was guilty of misplacing his trust in me, but he was not guilty of not doing his best,” Varma writes in his book Guns and Thighs, saying Bachchan completely succumbs to a director’s vision or lack of it once he commits for a movie.
In a chapter titled ‘My love affair with Amitabh Bachchan’, Varma writes the actor’s makeup man told him on first day of the shoot that Nishabd would not work and looking back he admits that it was a misjudgement on his part.
“By that time my proximity to him had blunted my sensibilities as a viewer of his star performances and the filmmaker in me got greedy and dumb enough to experiment with him as an actor, resulting in Nishabd and Aag. It’s not so much the quality of those films that I am talking about here but the idea of casting him in those roles.”
“Amitji’s make up man told me on day one of the shooting of Nishabd that the film wouldn’t work, because no one was going to accept Amitji in a role like that. Whether that was the reason or not, I myself as a viewer probably wouldn’t want to see him in a role like that,” writes Varma.
The director believes that behind the obvious power and intensity, Bachchan carries a vulnerability.
“The point I am trying to make is that he has never failed as an actor and he never will. It’s only directors, myself included, who frequently fail to capture his art in the right context.”
Nishabd’s leading lady Jiah Khan committed suicide in 2013. Varma says when he first met the actress, he thought “she was the most innocently sexy girl” he had ever seen. During the making of Nishabd everyone in the unit, including the director, was convinced that Jiah would become a huge star but her career, strangely, never took off.
“When I heard of her suicide, I cried uncontrollably though I was never really close to her. She was one of the few people who couldn’t cope with the disappointments and frustrations the film industry is replete with.”
Credited with heralding a new era in Bollywood with his gritty dramas like Satya and Company, Varma is now criticised for making films in a hurry. The director, however, argues that a good film or a bad film is dependent on chance rather than the talent of a filmmaker.
“… all my successes were by default and all my failure were by intent. To those critics, who complain that I make films in a hurry, my answer is that, I would rather live in the moment and make my film right now, than endlessly plan in the hope of it becoming a masterpiece.”
“Incidentally, the longest time I have taken and maximum money I have spent in my career on three film — Dud, Ag and Department — which are three of my biggest flops. I rest my case.”