Sep 23 |2009

ife seems to have come a full circle for Amitabh Bachchan. The 66-year-old star, who has already spent 40 years of his life in Bollywood, will be introduced as a novice actor in the credit titles of his forthcoming film, Paa.

Director Balki confirms the news and says, “The credits will read ‘Starring Abhishek Bachchan … Vidya Balan … Introducing Amitabh Bachchan.’ I truly believe this is Mr Bachchan’s first film, because he has never played a 12-year-old. His character is named Auro … No, it’s not short for Aurobindo. He’s just … Auro. And if there are any members of the audience who haven’t seen him before, they won’t recognise him at all in the film.”

On the sets of Paa, Bachchan’s transformation into the 12-year-old was so complete that he behaved like a child of that age even when the camera was not on. So startling and complete was his physical and emotional transformation that members of the unit were taken aback. Balki says, “Why 12-year-old? Mr Bachchan behaved like a 10-year-old on the sets. He just allowed the child within him to surface to become Auro. He threw so many tantrums just like an uncontrollable child that we had to literally discipline him at times. On the sets, he would also stomp his feet like a brat and just go on whining, ‘I want … I want … I want!’ until he got what he wanted. We were frightened by the level he had imbibed his character.”

And the complete transformation was not only emotional but also physical. Apart from the prosthetics required for the character, Auro has just 4-5 teeth. “Mr Bachchan’s gummed grin has to be seen to be believed. No matter how prepared you are as a filmmaker to work with this all-pervasive idol of an actor, you are still taken aback by what he does to his character,” says Balki.

Auro is also a chocolate addict. Although Mr Bachchan’s health doesn’t permit him to eat too many sweets, he constantly nibbled chocolates on the sets. “We had to often pull those bars of chocolate away from his hands. You see, chocolates are good for the metabolism level of those who suffer from Progeria. So Auro had to be shown constantly eating chocolates,” says Balki.

Considering the effort put in by Mr Bachchan, should he get ready to receive all the debutant awards next year? “I sure hope the awards will honour him in the child category or the debutant category,” Balki laughs and says.