November 10, 2005


Banner poster for EK AJNABEE

EK AJNABEE, the upcoming Bollywood action flick set in Thailand with stunts by Seng (the guy who choreographed the tuk tuk chase in ONG BAK), held its press conference last night in NYC and, as usual, it was like jumping into a pool full of piranhas. I'm honestly surprised I emerged with all my arms and legs still attached. It was held in the smallest room they could find, but the reason it was such a feeding frenzy was because Amitabh Bachchan was there. Yep, the Big B himself was slouched at the front of the room in all his laid-back glory, giving off fatherly vibes and being as charming as it's possible for one human being to be without imploding.

Also present was the director, Apoovra Lakhia, co-star Arjun Rampal, and Vikram Chatwal. Vikram is NYC's socialite Sikh, famous for his hotels and this is his first movie (he got the role because he's a friend of the director - which is okay because, as Amitabh said, he did the movie because the director is a friend of his son). Vikram provided the comic relief for the evening, jumping in and tiring everyone out with his long, fully baked answers to questions directed at other people onstage, rambling on about Strasberg and mathematics and reminiscing about wonderful conversations he had in Thailand about the breeze. Whenever he opened his mouth the room was filled with the sound of a hundred eyeballs rolling.

The conference kicked off with some footage from the movie (about 5 trailers worth) none of which showed much of anything except a bit of what I hope is a hip-hop item number from the movie. Then Amitabh and Co. entered, whipping the press into such a frenzy that they began to feverishly bite their own arms and legs. Vikram set the tone for the evening by delivering an interminable opening lecture.

Amitabh Bachchan "Please do not call this a Hindi film," he said, several times. "Don't call it a Bollywood film. This is a film with all new editing and photography and it is like nothing you've seen before. This is not a remake of MAN ON FIRE."

Then director Apoorva Lakhia torpedoed Vikram by standing up and saying, "I think of this film as a Hindi version of MAN ON FIRE. But I believe the result is good and I'm very proud of it."

The stated justification for the remake was that there have been several movies that look like MAN ON FIRE and this is India's. The movie was shot in just 40 days (although they had to wait 2 years for Amitabh Bachchan's schedule to open up for him to perform in it) in Thailand (because Apoorva wanted his two lead actors, Bachchan and Arjun, to "stand out", which prompted Arjun to reply, "Thank you for telling us we don't stand out anywhere in the world except Thailand.")

Amitabh was asked why he did the movie, and after saying that Apoorva is a friend of his son, he was quite frank, "As a 64 year old, I'm happy to be in a movie where I'm the main character. The film industry does not have a lot of time for a 64 year old actor." He claimed that the stunts weren't too difficult, and that the action was kept on a realistic level, noting that as an actor it was his job to make sure he was physically fit so that what he did on screen looked good.

I've been to a press conference with Shah Rukh Khan before and I have to say that as charming as he was, I think the Big B has him beat for pure, unadulterated, laid back cool. Amitabh talked about economics, the Mahabrata and child actors without ever once sounding like he was stretching or showing off. As he said at the end, "The Indian film industry makes films for our fellow Indians, wherever they are in the world. If you're not Indian and you like our films, then welcome. But we are not trying to cross over."

Then there was an explosion of digital camera noises as Amitabh Bachchan left the room and the assembled media went bananas, shoving, pushing, kicking and punching each other to get the best shot possible.

(Quick note: according to Amitabh, the little girl who stars with him in Sanjay Leela Bansali's BLACK, a Bollywood version of THE MIRACLE WORKER out earlier in 2005, was not only a novice actor but when she attended the premiere of the movie it was the first time she'd been in a movie theater in her life)

November 10, 2005 at 11:48 AM in News | Permalink


Cool article here:


I like the whole deal about him not wanting to sit in the big chair.

"No, I am not going to sit there," Bachchan was heard saying to his entourage. "Take it away. Remove it."

The chair was moved.

It gets ugly toward the end of the article, though:

But when another reporter asked the actor to comment on a question from the point of view of a living legend, Bachchan seemed to have had enough.

"Why do you ask 'from the point of view of a living legend?'" Bachchan asked.

"Because you are a living legend," the reporter responded, repeating himself a couple of times.

"What's that got to with the role I play?" Bachchan retorted, sounding annoyed.

The reporter mumbled a few words, but Bachchan cut him off.

"Anyway, we don't believe in all these lovely epithets that you create for us. Thank you so much."

Posted by: wisekwai | Nov 12, 2005 3:50:44 PM

hi, i just stumbled upon you blog while researching for my interview with amitabh bachchan. and as an indian film journalist i have to say that i have never read such an interesting piece on a Bollywood film's press conference (coz they are just so boring and long-winded, with journalists asking really stupid questions). it was an absolute pleasure reading this

Posted by: karishma | Nov 23, 2005 5:08:22 AM

hi i thing arjun is the best and he is so hot and lovely

Posted by: cristina | Nov 28, 2005 6:26:47 PM

Thanks for the kind words. Arjun was really funny at the press conference. No one was talking to him or asking any questions at all until Amitabh reminded people he was there and tried to draw him into the conversation. I thought it was a pretty classy thing to do.

Also, there's some coverage over on rediff.com of something I noticed but that didn't register. At the conference they had four chairs onstage and a giant leather throne for the Big B to sit in. At some point during the endless delays for the thing to start the throne disappeared. Apparently Amitabh refused to sit in it and thought it looked ridiculous and made them remove it. Go Big B!

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Nov 29, 2005 5:45:48 AM

hi Grady Hendrix how are u?really that no thalk with arjun rampal but wy he is the best of actears and he is so hot too than Bib B iam so sad about that but if i was there ....ok by every one

Posted by: cristina | Nov 29, 2005 4:47:10 PM

hello there man i like arjun rampal the best no1 can b campared wit him

Posted by: noel | Aug 12, 2006 1:06:52 PM

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