'I don't compete with my father'
Fancy an evening chat with Abhishek Bachchan?
Well, you might just get your chance for the actor is all set to host a reality game show titled, IDEA National Bingo Night, on Colors. It will bring together the actor's celebrity friends playing a very simple, interactive game. Abhishek's paa Amitabh Bachchan will kick off the season, starting January 23.
Other celebrity guests on the show include Shah Rukh Khan, Vidya Balan, Farhan Akhtar, Deepika Padukone, Kirron Kher, Bigg Boss 3 finalists Vindoo Dara Singh and Pravesh Rana, and the child stars of Balika Vadhu.
Besides a lot of gossip with the celebrity guests, there will be two fast-paced rounds of the number game played by the contestants, whose numbers will be drawn from the 'Bingo Bubble'.
Television viewers can also participate and win lots of exciting prizes every week. So, are you psyched? Well, Abhishek is certainly is as Rajul Hegde found out.
What attracted you to Bingo?
The sheer simplicity of the idea and the fact that this show is highly interactive. Winning here is easy -- you need not answer any difficult questions or perform any strenuous physical tasks. The idea is simple -- leave behind all your worries, relax and enjoy. Our fans and audiences know us through the characters we play in movies. But here, we are not acting and they get to meet us as we are and they judge us as real persons.
Image: Abhishek Bachchan
'Who doesn't want to be compared to Amitabh Bachchan?'
Are you nervous about your television debut?
I find this a great opportunity to prove myself as a TV host. The pressure is immense as my dad has been the star of this format and I am yet to prove myself. I am feeling a bit nervous at this stage but I am sure the audiences would love my innings on the small screen.
Your dad will be your first guest on show.
Yes. I want my pa to do some aaram through the show. As a son, I want my father to relax a bit, slow down and take care of his health. But he hardly takes my advice. So I called him on this show to take some aaram [smiles].
Has your pa given you any tips on hosting?
Pa has advised me to be myself, relax and be nice to the contestants. Just pray that they like me [smiles].
Your pa has set a benchmark as a host. Don't you think that people will start making comparisons?
I am tired of this question -- be it my acting career or anything. If they don't compare me to him, then whom will they compare me to? Who doesn't want to be compared to Amitabh Bachchan? He is the best we have and will ever have. It's a matter of great honour to be compared to him. He has been on television and has created history. Do I hope to outdo that? No, that is not possible. Nobody is going to be a better actor than him. Nobody is going to make a bigger mark than him in Indian and world cinema. Same with TV. I am his son, his biggest fan and want him to be around forever and be the best.
Do I have an aspiration to outdo him? No, I don't compete with my father. I don't think any son would like to do that. I am proud of my pa and very happy being behind him.
Image: Abhishek and Amitabh Bachchan
Photographs: Manav Manglani/Reuters
'Bingo is not a gambling show at all'
Don't you think Bingo is like gambling?
Bingo is not a gambling show at all because you are not putting any money to win. You have games like this in parties and clubs, like Housie or Bingo nights, which is packaged as an entertainment show. So I would call it an entertainment show.
Do you miss playing any outdoor games?
Yes, I miss playing basketball and skiing since my profession doesn't allow me much free time.
Any memories of playing indoor games?
In early 1980's, during the summer vacation, the film industry would pretty much shift to Kashmir because all the fathers would shoot there. So the families would go along. Then the Oberoi Hotel in Srinagar [now the Lalit] used to have Tambola every night, which my grandmom taught us. The games were so much fun.
Image: Abhishek Bachchan
'We promoted the game show on the lines of just chilling out'
How de-stressing do you think game shows are?
For the audience, I think it's very de-stressing. But for me, it's insane. It's very tough and a lot of hard work. We promoted the game show on the lines of just chilling out and having a nap. It was called 'Aaram classes'. It was all about having fun, nothing else.
The promos show mostly the stars from the industry.
I was keen on having friends on the show as guests. It's nice to have someone you know as it makes you comfortable. We have also gone to different cities and played with ordinary folk, which was magical.
How did it feel to interact with the common man?
It's humbling. It feels good because there is reality in it. Just see the love and affection they have. Being an actor you tend to interact and mix with people from the industry. We don't get an opportunity to mix with the common man, so this is a great opportunity. It was magical to play with the people in Udaipur. I want more people to come on the show and win.
Image: Abhishek Bachchan
'Oprah Winfrey is one of the warmest people I have ever met'
Do you watch TV?
Yes. Bigg Boss is over so I'm not watch anything at the moment [smiles]. I generally watch the news and history channels but really, I don't get time to watch them.
You were invited on Oprah Winfrey's talk show. Tell us about that.
Oprah Winfrey is one of the warmest people I have ever met. I felt really honoured to be invited.
Before the shoot, she goes to the studio to spend time with her guests, to know them better. It shows the kind of commitment and the effort she puts in her work.
Aishwarya had been on the show before but I met her [Oprah] for the first time. Her interest to know more about India and its culture was something that appealed to me. It's quite sad to know that she is going to be ending her talk show.
Aishwarya was supposed to do the film Crooked with you. Why did she opt out?
Yes, I have just started shooting for the film. Our dates didn't match because she is in the process of finishing a Tamil film with Rajni uncle (Rajnikanth), Action Replay and Guzarish.
Image: Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Cannes