Abhishek is happy to be a gay icon. "I 'm very happy with that. Why should I be surprised or shocked? I think homosexuals are as human as anyone else. It's a matter of great pride if I'm their icon."
Far away in the jungles of Cochin shooting for Mani Ratnam's next, Abhishek Bachchan has had no time to celebrate the success of Dostana. "Of course we'll have a party when we get back. But at the moment, I'm celebrating by doing more quality work."
His effeminate gestures in Dostana have raised eyebrows. And there's talk that his father hasn't really liked Junior's character or performance. Abhishek is aghast. "Why should he take offence? Not at all! The film is not about homosexuality. Dostana isn't Brokeback Mountain. It was just a comedy. My whole family has thoroughly enjoyed it. Who doesn't enjoy a good laugh? It's a normal fun film. Aishwarya is very happy that it's a big hit my second big hit of the year after Sarkar Raj."
Whom was he copying in Dostana? "Dostana wasn't made in haseen-mazaaq. We had a lot of fun making the film. But we were serious about the making of the film. I worked very hard on the gestures and mannerisms. We in this country tend to take comedies very frivolously. Good locales, good songs.... and that's it. In Dostana, I had to work very hard to portray straight man acting gay. It could easily have gone over-board. I wanted to avoid making the character caricatural. Barring one portion (the flashback about how John met Abhishek) we kept it controlled."
This was the toughest character for Abhishek to play. "It's unfortunate that these kinds of films aren't taken seriously. It wasn't a character I could sleepwalk through. People think we partied hard while shooting Dostana in Miami. Wrong. We worked from early morning till night, worked out and crashed out."
Abhishek says he isn't surprised by the success of Dostana. "I knew it was workable when I heard the script. I was convinced it'd be very entertaining. We knew the audiences would laugh with us, that they wanted something entertaining to get their minds off a hard day's work."
Abhishek admits the disappointment of Drona has been wiped away by the success of Dostana. "It's always wonderful to be a part of a hit. Dostana was the name of Dharma Productions' first film and it starred my dad. When Karan and I put our heads together, we spontaneously decided Dostana was the best title for our film."
Far from the madding appreciation Abhishek is enjoying the hit. "It gives you back your self-confidence. I worked very hard on Drona. I felt hugely disappointed when it didn't do well. Drona will always remain close to my heart."
Abhishek next moves to Munnar with Mani. "Munnar is where Pa shot Nishabd with Ramu." Reacting to media reports that he wore a cap in Mumbai to hide the special look for Mani's look, Abhishek laughs, "I know Mani is secretive about his characters' look. But there's only so much one can do. An actor has many commitments to fulfill besides the film on hand. I'm sure Mani understands that. No, I wore a cap for no particular reason."
Is it true that you got Kareena Kapoor replaced in Dostana? “Not true at all. I don’t have the inclination or the power to allow people to do the film or not do the film. It is solely the producers’ decision. As far as I know Aishwarya was supposed to do the role. Karan later decided she shouldn’t do it and then Priyanka came in. Replacing and patching up are juvenile words used by the media. Something I don’t subscribe to. I really don’t understand what the big deal is. Do you really think I have the power to replace people?”
You do, if you want to... “I don’t want to. That’s the point. I think Dostana is perfectly cast as it is now.” Do you forgive and forget? “I live and let live. I don’t have problems with anyone. I am pretty cool.”
For Mani Rathnam’s film Raavan, were you asked to shed 15 kgs? “First of all Raavan is not the title of the movie. It is all media made. I am not allowed to talk about the movie. You tell me if I have lost weight because the media seems to determine my weight. I don’t walk around with a weighing scale. So I wouldn’t know.”