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Thread: I need to be alone: Amitabh
09-30-2009, 03:26 PM #1
I need to be alone: Amitabh
As Amitabh Bachchan sets out to play ‘pop philosopher’ to the inmates of a house isolated from the world, on a reality show, he tells Indu Mirani about isolation and living life in the public glare 24X7
Have you ever been, either deliberately or by circumstances, isolated?
It depends on how you treat isolation. When I was sent to boarding school I felt isolated because we were in Sherwood School in Nainital and we had to do nine months at a stretch from March to November. There were no breaks, we never came home and we only saw our parents after nine months. When you get your first job, you have to go to a new city, you are in a completely different environment, and you feel isolation. But at the same time you have the independence of earning your own money, taking your own decisions.
When I was in the film industry, I took a sabbatical some years ago for about five years. I lived in other parts of the world. That was isolation, but in a different sense. There was the joy of getting my own groceries, making my own breakfast, parking my own car, doing things that were ordinary.
There are times, I must admit, when I need to be left alone. We are all artistes and deal in a profession that is very sensitive in many ways. We are constantly trying to portray characters which are, perhaps, completely alien to us in nature, in constitution, in words, in action. And, after continuously being in this loop of repetitive impersonations of different people all the time, maybe we forget who we actually are. Therefore, we need to be by ourselves, just to do ordinary things, spend time with our grandchildren and just walk in nature and do nothing.
So isolation is not really bad?
No, it’s not. Recently, I was with a friend, who was ill, for about two-and-a-half months without any pressure of work. I had deliberately not taken on any work and it was a very refreshing time for me even though I was there for something which was more medical centric and we were always tense. But it was great to not have to get up at a stipulated time and not worry about whether I need to have a shower now and get ready, or I need to be at the dining table at so and so time otherwise the lunch break will be over, to just be able to not do anything that is routine or has been stipulated as routine. I never watched TV, never read papers. Just sat there, looked out of the window or just sat by myself. At times, though, I began to wonder “What am I doing? I need to occupy my self” because I am used to working for such a long period of time and suddenly I had nothing to do. That was very disturbing.
How does being in the public glare 24X7 change you as a person?
With the benefit of being a celebrity, there is also the burden of being a celebrity. You have to be on your best behaviour all the time. You must not be seen doing things that are objectionable to society, to the constitution, to the law. But I think if you reconcile with that and conduct yourself in a manner where you follow the rules, then you are fine. As individuals and as a nation, I think, I have always wanted to express that there should be a national policy, which is what our attitude should be. I want that there should be a very definite identity, what an Indian is when he goes out of his shores. I see a German and there is something definitive about his nature. I want a distinctive positive quality but it should be universal. I go abroad and sometimes when I meet my countrymen they say, “I am from Kerala or I am from Bengal”, I would like him to say, “I am from India”.
How do you account for the fact that today people are willing to come on national television and talk about their lives, something that didn’t happen before all these reality shows?
I think it is to do with the way we are developing, the fact that we are unable to keep other influences, other cultures away from us because of the communication facilities available to us. We see other channels from other parts of the world, we see them behaving differently and there is an intent or desire or perhaps just a commercial desire to emulate that. I think that we are growing as a nation and we are still at a developing stage. Until we reach a certain stature, we will have to go through this process. And then eventually, one day, society itself will decide and say “No you can’t do this.” Just like one would say that we are Indians and this is not our culture. How did we get that? There is a huge history behind us. These are phases; we will sift the good from the bad, and then eventually live with the good.
You are always very politically correct, where does this come from?
I don’t know what you mean by politically correct. Sometimes people ask me how you like a particular person. I will obviously like him and say good things about him because perhaps I haven’t seen the other side of his personality. I would have to feel ugly inside to sniff out the ugliness in anybody else. I would rather say he is normal; every body has good and bad qualities, why talk about the bad ones. What good is it to you? Is he going to change? Are you going to change his psychology? Are you going to change yourself with respect to him? He is still going to be that way. So why go through this whole trouble of disturbing my internal system in trying to decipher that his internal system is wrong. I think it’s a waste of energy.
09-30-2009, 06:26 PM #2