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‘Why give dolls to girls and guns to boys?’

‘Why give dolls to girls and guns to boys?’
Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan, the actor, the megastar, soars to new heights with each of his new releases. As Big B awaits the release of his next movie, Pink, he talks to us about the courtroom drama, the impact the movie had on him and gender stereotypes. Excerpts:

As an actor, were you satisfied with the response you got for your performance in Te3n?
I think as an artist, first you understand what the writer and director want from you. If you’re on the same page, you should go ahead and do it. You have your own interpretation of what the role should do, the director has his own interpretation and it boils down eventually to what the director wants you to do. What you saw in Te3n was what my director wanted me to do. Whether it received praise or not is the audience’s point of view, and we accept that. The film didn’t really do well and we have to accept it because the returns didn’t come. As an artist, I feel that according to what I was asked to do, I satisfied my director. There can be criticism of my performance, which I will accept, and there will be criticism of the film in general. If there are areas that people felt we didn’t do right, I should have a justification for it or be answerable. I should be given an opportunity to counter or accept that.

What does the title Pink, of your next film, really mean to it?
It’s a colour associated with women empowerment. However, the film is not about women empowerment, it is a social thriller. But yes, during the course of the film there are issues or incidents that erupt, which talk about women, the society and our attitude towards them. Therefore, the title Pink was kept. Shoojit Sircar made some revealing statements in some of his interviews, where he said Pink is normally associated with the Pink dress that Barbie doll wears. But I wanted to know, why is the colour pink always associated with girls? Why is blue always associated with boys? When a boy is born in the house, and you send a message, the packing is in blue. If it’s a girl, then the packing you sent out is pink. You buy ‘how to make a house’ for the little girl, you give her some miniature cooking utensils. Why? Why do you give a boy a car or a gun? Because that you feel is a representative of manliness and this is representative of womanliness. So I guess that’s where it came from, the title of the film.  It’s pre-determined from that age and time and I think it’s sad. Women should have the liberty to make their own choices rather than being pressurised. The letter I wrote for my grandchildren, it came out of an emotional passion that erupted after working in Pink. What I say in the film is what I would have said even if I wasn’t acting in it.

The movie is a courtroom drama. How did you step into the lawyer’s role?
I think the writing solves a lot of the actors’ problem areas. The writer pens the situations, they write your words, they write your moments. The director comes and tells you this is how I want you to say, this is what I want you to do. Many times we have interpretations of our own, which may not necessarily be the correct one. So the director tells you.

Each year you reach new heights with the kind of characters you play. What’s the method to this?
I don’t think there is a justifiable statement to make. If you are a professional actor, you are expected to portray what you are asked to do to the best of your ability. You don’t tell a professional doctor that you have reached a height, iska pet tumne kaat diya, achcha kaata (You cut open a patient’s stomach, you cut it well). If you are a professional actor, you’re supposed to deliver. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you don’t.