Abhishek Bachchan in 'Dasvi'
Abhishek Bachchan in 'Dasvi' Image Credit: Netflix

At the risk of sounding arrogant, Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan declares that he’s at a stage in his acting career where he doesn’t have to audition for roles. The jobs come to him.

His role in his latest Netflix release ‘Dasvi’ in which he plays a swaggering Chief Minister Ganga Ram Chaudhary in judicial custody following a corruption probe is a prime example of how filmmakers seek his expertise out without any casting trials. 

During this interview, the articulate actor even seemed mildly offended at even being asked if he was whetted for 'Dasvi' by director Tushar Jalota or his team.

“I don’t know many actors who after 22 years are still auditioning,” said Bachchan in a recent interview with Gulf News.

His tone was stoically matter-of-fact, indicating that he wasn’t being haughty about his own acting prowess. Bachchan, who was born into an acting family filled with long-enduring talents like Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan, has earned enough street credit to get away with these lines. He takes the edge of his words by revealing that he isn't particularly good with acting tryouts.

"And I am terrible at auditions. And thankfully now after 22 years and 70 odd films, anybody who needs to see an audition of mine, I can openly say -- in all humility -- to please go see a film of mine to get an idea of what my work is all about," he added.

Abhishek Bachchan in 'Dasvi'
Abhishek Bachchan in 'Dasvi' Image Credit: Netflix

This actor, 46, has a valid point. In the last two years, has been on a roll.

Films such as the whacky caper ‘Ludo’ and the intriguing crime comedy ‘Bob Biswas’ released during the pandemic directly on web streaming platforms has solidified his reputation of being a sturdy and reliable actor. He has earned his stripes, and he isn’t apologetic about it.

Abhishek Bachchan Ludo
Abhishek Bachchan Ludo Image Credit: Netflix

Excerpts from our interview with the actor as we talk about his role in ‘Dasvi’, his process, his famous parents, nailing the Haryanvi accent, and more ...

The trailer of ‘Dasvi’ looks intriguing … You play a corrupt politician with some serious swag even though you are lodged in prison after doing some shady stuff.

The character required a particular gait and a walk. People like Ganga Ram Chaudhary have a certain confidence about them and that was something that we were keen to show in ‘Dasvi’. There’s a certain element of aggression to all his actions. So these are the kinds of things that we wanted to show.

Even in jail, you walk around with a sense of entitlement … Was it plain fun to play such a wicked role?

Thank you for asking that. It was great and it was a lot of fun. Very seldom do you get these roles where you really get to go out there and have so much fun with it. And, playing Ganga Ram Chaudhary was a lot of fun. Everything about him is just so very gregarious and debonair. He has this huge air of confidence and brashness about him. 

When you are in prison, your elitist jailor played by Yami Gautam hits on a raw nerve when she takes a swipe at your lack of education and puts a dent in that confident persona that you display. Was that plot twist interesting?

The plot of the movie is simple. He’s a chief minister who gets sent to judicial custody and is enjoying his plush and cushy life in jail till a new jailor Jyoti Jaiswal comes in and realises that he’s bending the rules to suit his convenience. He is happily using his clout and power to influence the jailors before her watch. But she comes and puts him in his place. And in one of the scenes in the film, she asks him: ‘To what class have I studied till’ and that becomes a bone of contention between them. During a showdown, she calls him out for not being educated. And that’s when he decides that he now wants to pass his 10th standard [high school] and how he goes about educating himself is what the film's about. And during this journey, he understands that education is the right path to embark upon. If you are educated, you are going to see the world in a different light and yo are going to understand things a lot better. But he also understands the distinction between being smart and being educated. He’s not bookish nor is he studious, but he becomes educated and that’s a nice message to put across. Be warned, that’s not what the film is about because it’s an out-and-out entertainer. It’s a great story with a subtle bit of messaging in the background. If you can come away from the film with realising the importance of education, then well and good. But at its core, it’s a wonderful comedy.

TAB DASVI STILL.JPG-1650277895155
Yami Gautam plays the jailor in 'Dasvi' starring Abhishek Bachchan Image Credit: Netflix

Is ‘Dasvi’ modelled after the lives of former Bihar Chief Minister husband-wife duo Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi?

No. It’s a completely fictitious story with completely fictitious characters. And once you see the film, you’ll understand why.

Your Haryanvi accent sounds incredibly authentic. Was it challenging to speak Hindi in that dialect?

It was tough and very difficult. Learning a dialect is always more difficult than learning a new language. Allow me to explain. When you learn a new language, you learn everything from scratch, but in a dialect, you need to mouth words differently than what your mouth is accustomed to doing. It comes down to certain accents and matras as we say in Hindi ... The minor tweaks and adjustments are tough. When you are talking in a flow, you have to keep those tweaks in mind. We had to re-train our tongues to say the same words differently. You have to learn how to adapt a bit.

Speaking of adapting, web streaming platforms have revolutionised your career and given it a jump start.  Even you legendary father and acting heavyweight Amitabh Bachchan gave his nod to your film describing his turn as 'exceptional' ... 

I am enjoying my work immensely and I just feel very thankful and blessed. As an actor, being employed regularly -- first and foremost -- is a very big relief and I am getting to do work that I really enjoy. The emphasis is on doing challenging work. The effort is to do something that I might not have done in the past. I try not to repeat something and I try hard. As of right now, I have been lucky and I hope to continue going down this path. I am happy doing the work that I’m doing and I’m enjoying the challenges that the directors are throwing at me. I feel very lucky that whenever anybody writes a film, my name is in the reckoning. They feel that here’s an actor who can possibly fulfill our requirements and that’s a very privileged position to be in.

Abhishek Bachchan in 'Bob Biswas'
Abhishek Bachchan in 'Bob Biswas' Image Credit: Supplied

Ganga Ram Chaudhary is a far cry from your suave self. What kind of legwork did you do?

We did extensive workshops and there was a lot of hard work that went into playing this character. There was a dialect coach that I worked with for close to two months. It was an important part of the preparation for this film.

Was this film shot in an actual jail?

We shot in Agra Central Jail, a totally functioning jail. It was surreal. Firstly, I was very impressed with how clean, disciplined, and organised the entire jail was. We were shooting on the premises and we had a few inmates watching us shoot our scenes and there was a fair amount of interaction among us. We became acquainted and the weird thing was that you had to remind yourself that these are some hardened criminals who were in jail for some heinous crimes. And therein starts the dichotomy -- they tend to get humanised when you spend time with them. They are normal, basic, and dare I say even sweet. Sometimes, jails serve as reform facilities.

You screened this film for those inmates ... What was their reaction to this film?

I screened this film for my mother and her fellow parliamentarian friends in New Delhi recently. They all loved it very much and I was happy that they made the time to come and see my film. My mother is traditionally very reserved with her comments . And, that’s because she feels when she says something, the opposite just happened. Usually, she reserves her comments and I get it. It’s somehow difficult for a mother to be judgemental about their children. My father is brutally honest about my work, but he’s yet to watch the film since he was travelling and filming in Rishikesh and Lucknow [At the time of this interview]. He’s yet to watch it, but he will when it’s out on Netflix. Regarding, the inmates’ reactions: it was very emotional. I remember on our last day of shoot last year, I promised them that I would bring the film to them and show them first. I am so happy and proud that I could come good with my promise. They were happy and were seen clapping, applauding and dancing to the songs. So I am happy that we could give them that moment ... And I just hope that everyone gets entertained during the duration of ‘Dasvi’.

Abhishek and Amitabh Bachchan
Abhishek and Amitabh Bachchan Image Credit: instagram.com/amitabhbachchan/

Don’t Miss It!

‘Dasvi’ is streaming on Netflix now