Amitabh Bachchan on Rituparno, The Last Lear and bad Bengali pronunciation

  | June 06, 2013 13:23 IST
Jiah Khan

Amitabh Bachchan with Rituparno Ghosh during different moods. (The image was posted on Facebook by Amitabh Bachchan

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembers the time spent with National Award winning filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh and pours his heart out in his Tuesday memoir.

There is a slice from his life that he shares on his Facebook page every Tuesday with a memoir and Amitabh Bachchan opens a box of his experiences, memories and the life beyond the megastar for his 'extended family' (read fans).

This time around the 70-year-old got into remembrance of filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh, who directed him in the National Award winning film, The Last Lear. Mr Ghosh died on May 30 at his south Kolkata residence due to a heart attack. Big B posted on Facebook: Rituparno Ghosh, that young and most respected director from Bengal, passed away .. suddenly, and most unexpectedly ! It has been extremely shocking for all of us and indeed the entire film fraternity, at this most rude and unbelievable news. 49 years is no age to die, but Ritu Da as we affectionately called him has gone, and left a huge void in the world of some of the most progressive work done in recent times.

It certainly did. No one ever had such a winning streak when it came to national honours and acclaim in the cinematic universe. Who can understand it better than the legendary Big B himself!

Mr Bachchan recalls how he and the late director would bounce ideas to reach closest to his character of Harish Mishra, a retired Shakespearean theatre actor, in the film.

Mr Bachchan's post read: The obsession with Shakespeare and the English language as spoken in its purity, was one of the characters obsessions. Often I had observed through the years of being in close proximity to some great theatre artist that they, never seemed to leave the stage as it were, even when they were off it ! The tone and speech of their character on stage was replicated in real life too. I felt it needed to be played so, and Ritu Da did not disagree. So in their daily existence, the speech style and movements and delivery of the spoken normal conversation was what they were with on stage !

Apart from its cinematic brilliance, the movie and its setting took back Mr Bachchan to his humble beginnings in Kolkata, where he started his career in the 1960s as a middle-level executive with a British firm.

When in Rome, do as the do and it must have helped the bangla milieu grow on the megastar. However, his Bengali speaking still needs to be worked on. But that didn't stop Mr Ghosh from casting him as a character, whose core essence was a Bengali.

Mr B's post reads: For all practical purposes, the character was a Bengali. In actual fact as the back story goes, he was from Bihar, but settled in Bengal and so one typical of the region. His speech throughout was that of an affected British stage performer. But that was a put on. On occasion, when he had indulged in more than his quota of the pricy and exclusive Scotch, he would be his Bengali self. The tone of his delivery, slurred, but never far away from the common man's Bengali English, which, if you have spent sufficient time in Kolkata, would not be too difficult to identify.

The unit spoke in Bengali, which was a joy, for it gave us all an opportunity to pick up the second most sweetest language in the world. The first being French. At the end of a days work he would call Jaya and share a laugh at all the wrong pronunciations that I was making in my Bengali.

We can laugh thinking about it, sir despite having watched you deliver an impeccable performance in the cinematic brilliant film.

Of course, the credit goes to the filmmaker.

Ritu Da was well planned and understanding of the needs of actors on set. In a most tiny little space he and his efficient DOP would at times have a three to four camera set up, so that there was a continuity of performance in a particular scene. He was never rigid in his directions to the artists and rather enjoyed the impromptu additions that actors tend to make at times.

..he was essentially a delight to work with. Challenging, gently pushing for a correction, giving immense liberty to the actor on set without any interference, and readily accommodating any peculiar demands that most actors often tend to make when they are facing the camera.

The magic the two created with The Last Lear was soon to be recreated with a new project.

Big B revealed: I had wished him on his birthday some months back. He had wished Jaya on hers last month and they spoke of doing a film together, as did he with me too some weeks ago, of a story he was constructing for us to work together in.

Only if the two could have worked together again, who knows it might have led to a team of mavericks. But Life is certainly beyond explanation, sir.

Right when he was dealing with the loss of Ritu da, Mr Bachchan suffered another shock with the news of the death of actress Jiah Khan.

Jiah committed suicide at her Mumbai flat on Tuesday by hanging herself. She made her Bollywood debut opposite Mr Bachchan in director Ram Gopal Varma's Nishabd.

Big B posted on Facebook: FB 229 -But really a sad day today at the shocking and very disturbing news of Jiah Khan's suicide .. a young and bright life ended. This is no way to leave the world !! She worked with me in Nishabd, and then subsequently in a few more films with other stars too ..