R Balki has directed six feature films and all of them have featured Amitabh Bachchan, either in a full length role or in a cameo appearance. Now, on Big B’s 80th birthday, the filmmaker opens up on his admiration for the superstar actor, and about his first meeting with him. “It was for an ad shoot. It was the first advertising campaign after his comeback, and that was the first time I had met him,” recalls Balki.
He further adds, “I remember narrating the ad script to him, and there was no response from his side. It was a funny script, and I was wondering why there was no response. So I looked up at him, and he had this poker face look. Normally when you narrate any Bachchan thing, you speak in his voice, and I realised I was doing it in front of him, to him (laughs). He just looked at me, had a smile on his face, and I was so embarrassed. That was my first meeting with him.”
While Bachchan has played lead characters in Balki’s Cheeni Kum, Paa and Shamitabh, he made special appearances in Ki & Ka, Pad Man and Chup. “He has been very kind, and I never had to convince him. He saw the merits of the role, and I have been lucky enough that he has shot those scenes, because all those sequences are so integral for the films. I can’t imagine Ki & Ka without Amit ji and Jaya (Bachchan) ji’s scene, or I can’t imagine Chup and English Vinglish (producer) without his scenes. Those were important sequences, and I have been very fortunate that he has said yes to them,” shares R Balki.
For Amitabh Bachchan’s 80th birthday, Balki states, “I always tell him, ‘You are pretending to be 80, show me proof of your age. I don’t believe you are 80. You’re not 80 years old’. For me, he has never aged. He is still the same, will always be the same and his energy is the same. The joy he gives us I think very few people manage to do that.”
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