New Delhi: Iconic Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan has said he prefers to keep his personal and political inclinations separate from his acting.
Bachchan, popularly known as Big-B or megastar, said he is surprised by the fact that his other films with equally strong social and political undercurrents, were not being talked about much.
"These are stories, these are films and we play characters, we play roles. What our individual and personal thinking is, I, at least, would like to keep it personal and individual. But, if for some reason and, if there is an aspect of a particular story which can become inspirational for somebody, then it`s a moment of joy and happiness for us," said Bachchan.
Satyagraha has been directed by Prakash Jha, known for making political thrillers with underlying social themes. This is the second time Jha is teaming up with Bachchan.
The two last worked together on the film `Aarakhshan` (Reservation), which highlighted the plight of India`s underprivileged in the deep-rooted caste system and spoke about reservations in the education sector.
Jha, who also participated in the interview, however, denied that his latest film has been inspired by Anna Hazare movement.
"Aarakshan (Reservation) was about a particular issue, this (Satyagraha) is about a wider social issue, which has become a kind of `a season of protests`, which is happening all over the world. So, as we were working on the script things were happening all around the world. Whether it was Wall Street, whether it was Brazil or Bangladesh or Anna Hazare`s movement, I mean we started working on the script much before Anna Hazare`s movement happened," said Jha.
Speaking about Bachchan, who many consider the greatest Indian actor, Jha said the veteran performer spends hours on rehearsing his role for a film.
Giving an insight into his preparation for a character, Bachchan said he prefers to have lengthy discussions with his directors before enacting the role.
"If I have discussion and debate, questions, I would rather do that before I go in front of the camera, and we do that. With Prakashji, we have had many sessions before actually getting on set, during the writing stage, during the narration, during his concept of what scenes are going to be like. I have questioned him, he has questioned me, we have arguments on why this is like this and why shouldn`t it be this. But all of that is before we actually go on the set," Bachchan said.
`Satyagraha` depicts the upsurge of the middle class against a corrupt and unjust political system that leaves the middle class with no choice but to form a movement to challenge the status quo.
Apart from Bachchan, the film also featuress Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpayee, Arjun Rampal, Kareena Kapoor and Amrita Rao.
When Jha was asked how long it took him to make the film, he said: "Shooting (was) 6 months, 55-56 days. Post-production took two to three months. Preparation-writing-takes about three years."
He also said the most exciting part of the film was writing it, and added that as a concept, it formulated in his mind four or five years ago, when he was still shooting the film "Rajneeti".
"At that point in time, I only had an idea and I started taking notes and I started working towards finding a story," Jha said.
"You could say, because of the multi-dimensional and multi-star cast, it (Satyagraha), would be closer in structure to `Rajneeti`."
He also said that this film has not been inspired by the Anna Hazare movement, but subscribed to the view that protests have to be non-violent.
"Because, a violent protest will beget more violence and, that is not going to be a solution. The solution will always come through non-violence," he said.
Jha also provided an insight about he goes about the business of conceiving and making a film.
"You, you, have the story and you have the characters developing, you have the dynamics and the conflicts and eventually as your story begins to take shape, and your characters begin to emerge and become stronger, you start thinking of who might -you know-fit into that character best," he said.
He said that when it came to deciding who would essay the role of Dwarka Anand in `Satyagraha`, Jha said: "We immediately thought of Mr. Bachchan because, you know, it was his stature, his age."
He, however, said that he did not immediately go and narrate the story to Bachchan, as he felt that he should only approach him with a script that was completely ready, and also be in a position to answer questions posed by Bachchan, who would want to satisfy himself before agreeing to or accepting the role.
When Bachchan was asked whether he had ever considered bringing his political thinking into the film, just as Jha has done in some of his films, he said: "Many actors would that, I don`t. I like to treat my profession as a profession. But, there are many actors I know who are very conscious-almost close to being social activists."
As an example of the latter, he cited actors like Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das.
"They are all very strong in their beliefs and I admire them for their beliefs- and the very fact that they will not necessarily go with a particular story as narrated to them or asked of them to do, if they do not feel strongly of what they are doing is in consonance with their social activism," Bachchan said.
Jha said that he was not a political person with any ideology who tries to bring about ideology into his work.
Agreeing that he does make films which can appear to be overtly political, he has never endorsed any political ideology.
He said that he was involved in politics for some time, as he only wanted the job of being a Member of Parliament, to have "access to resources which I could bring to my constituency."
Bachchan also said that he liked being putty in the hands of the director.
"When we are performing a role, we want to perform it to the hilt and make sure whatever we portray is correctly done and a large portion of that depends upon how it is written and how the director wants it to be portrayed. That`s what we do," he said.
Bachchan also said that the Nehru-Gandhi family had been close to his family from the time of his parents.
"That association, I will always respect. I always did respect it and I always will in the future," he said.