Abhishek Bachchan: Dasvi and lessons in jail

The actor deals with politics, textbooks and comedy in his new film, but admits that it was the most difficult to address the Haryanvi dialect

The actor deals with politics, textbooks and comedy in his new film, but admits that it was the most difficult to address the Haryanvi dialect

Abhishek Bachchan, self-proclaimed withdrawn and apologetic on the verge of his work, has decided to be completely ignorant of his latest, Dasvi. Why? For him, it is more than just a film – and a possible catalyst for change.

When we spoke a few days ago, Bachchan had just seen the social comedy and was clearly elated. “I loved it. It touched me, and that’s what a movie should do,” he says. “For him, it’s an emotional experience that can not be quantified or categorized.” You just want to see the movie and live in that world, and I hope it has the same effect on you and your readers “, he adds.

He’s not one of those movies, he reluctantly agrees that Bollywood usually makes movies that are either pure entertainers or movies with a message. But they should be “a mix of everything” – entertain the audience and enrich them. Dasvi go through this carefully. In order not to “put too much pun on it”, there is a “learning” at the end of the film, he says, which is not obvious but done through a very entertaining process.

Abhishek Bachchan | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Nothing political about it

The film, by debutant director Tushar Jalota, is not a commentary on whether politicians should be educated, but rather a man’s journey that realizes that education can open up a world of possibilities. He wants to complete his tenth standard, even if he comes from prison.

Bachchan admits the difficulty of discussing the film without making it sound preachy, “but it really is not!” he insists. For the actor, his character Gangaram Chaudhary’s biggest lesson is that “you have to change” – you can not be set in your own way because there is a larger world out there waiting to be discovered. Bachchan, 46, describes the character as a political beast for whom manipulation of the system “goes in his blood.” But he is also a lovable villain. Ganga is a Jaat, a community that Bachchan knows through the Kabaddi team he owns. “They are rough, tough guys, but very emotional at heart,” a trait he tried to bring into his character.

Junior B on the seat

Bachchan’s last couple of films (economic and crime thrillers Bob Biswas and The big bull) were intense, so he was looking for something easier when the role came to him. He has played Ganga in a way that is real and relatable. But bringing the societal character to life took some preparation. He spent six to eight weeks working exclusively on body language and the Haryanvi dialect. The latter was the biggest challenge, he admits, and took two months of training with a coach who was also on site.

Manufacturing Dasvi was a collaborative process. Each scene was thoroughly rehearsed and discussed the night before filming. Jalota put a lot of trust in the actors, which, according to Bachchan, is what a director should do. “You hired them for a reason,” he says.

A still image from Dasvi

A still image from Dasvi

Yami Gautam plays Ganga’s prison guard, and Bachchan loves the David and Goliath symbolism that comes naturally when they share a frame. “Ganga’s greatest resistance and obstacles are physically the least he has seen,” he shares. Working with Gautam and his opponent Nimrat Kaur, he says, has made him “a much more enriched actor”.

Glocal is the new reality

While Dasvi designed for the big screen, Bachchan is not disappointed that it will be released on Netflix and JioCinema – it carries the promise of reaching more people. For him, the advent of streaming now makes it a very exciting time to be a content creator. In the last two and a half years, he has made three films and the show Andas: Into the Shadows. “Where can you do that kind of work and get away with it?” He laughs.

For him, the OTT boom has resulted in everyone pulling up their socks because platforms must have superior products because their competition is global. For example, he has just finished filming the second season of Breathewhich will stream on Amazon Prime Video and compete with those like Wonderful Mrs. Maisel. According to Bachchan, if you make film today, it must be as magnificent as Avengers or as gripping as any movie around the world.

Dasvi will be released on JioCinema and Netflix on April 7.

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