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It was a war of words between Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan throughout the week in the media. Here's Amitabh Bachchan in conversation with Subhash K Jha.
Aamir Khan continues to justify his severe comments on Black and in the same breath he calls you the biggest star that Indian cinema has ever seen. Comment.
The only thing correct about this question is Aamir's justification of his severe comments on Black. It's his individual opinion and it must be respected. What I entirely disagree with is the largesse he offers me on being the 'biggest star of Indian Cinema'. There he has gone totally wrong. We hear a lot of Aamir recently because he has a film to release and needs to promote it. Madhuri Dixit has said that in today's day and age everyone needs to scream about their product. The age of subtle and soft marketing is over. And what is wrong if the subject of Aamir's film, which I believe deals with challenged children, needs for him to take a stand on his beliefs about the film. He did the same post the release of Rang de Basanti. His beliefs could differ from the beliefs of other makers, so what? Black, which he had issues with, won huge laurels, critically and commercially, nationally and internationally. If his is a voice of lone dissent, it's his right as an individual, living in a free society. And if his comments attract debate, it can only help in drawing attention to the product he now promotes. I think it to be very smart of him to be able to have achieved that. Is there a provision in law or society that states that one cannot be smart? And why just Aamir... in today's available mediums we all do it. So what if Shahrukh goes to a cricket match to promote his film? I see nothing wrong with that. Does not the media dress and decorate its pages and headlines to gain maximum attention and salability? I will do it too, when my film comes up for release to assist marketing.
Your glowing comments on Saawariya have provoked a lot of debate and discussion.
The 'film not living up to expectations' has got nothing to do with my personal opinion. I stand by my comments and my observations about the film.
By comparing Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor's performances to a symphony?
Have you heard Beethoven's symphony? There's loud orchestra followed by a thin flute sound…This was the genius composer's interpretation of desire and destiny…It's like the two protagonists in Saawariya -Ranbir is the storm, Sonam the soft breeze.
That's not what the film critics had to say?
Film criticism is a part of journalistic freedom. And it is the freedom of the reader to accept or reject it. But it's a healthy practice. It gives a point of view. A view that at times gets camouflaged in the exuberance of the offering. I read film criticism regularly. I learn from the mistakes that they bring out and at times, disagree with their assessment. That is my prerogative. At times, I use it to challenge my own self, to beat or overcome the opinion expressed. Therefore, I am happy with that. I only wish that the more recent - well, of the past 15 years or so - practice, of giving marks would not be there. It's like being sent back to school, where your mark sheet at the end of a paper or term, would turn out to be the most dreaded embarrassment!
Some of your best works, including Sholay, Agneepath, Sooryavansham and Nishabd, were severely panned.
I have two views on this. The obvious is the immense hurt of reading disparaging analysis. Somehow, if it was just a one-on-one it would be more tolerable. But to know that millions will be exposed to it is like losing your pants in the middle of a crowded street. And two, to accept it in the right spirit. There is another more personal factor - despite the criticism, were we in a position to enjoy the work that we did? Well, I've enjoyed immensely working in all the films you mentioned. I found opportunity in them that tested or challenged my creative senses. They may not have been accepted. But they were my little personal accomplishments. And that has been satisfying.
There's a distinct polarization in the film industry with the Khans and the Bachchans said to be on different sides of the firing line. Once and for all, state the nature of your rapport with Shahrukh Khan?
I disagree with you entirely and strongly. Our film fraternity is an excellent example of happy integration. Please do not put it on a Psephologist's drawing board, where expressions like these are used often to examine the political future of a party in an election process.
Finally, why weren't you at Goa Film Festival for the premiere of The Last Lear?
I was unaware of the protocol involved at the Goa Film Festival. My very busy and tight schedule kept me away from the premiere, since I was made aware of it at a very short notice.