Growing up, filmmaker Nagraj Manjule says the world of Amitabh Bachchan films was a huge influence on him and he credits the megastar for making him fall in love with cinema.
Manjule, the director of some of the most acclaimed films of the last decade including Fandry and Sairat, said in his Jeur village in Maharashtra’s Solapur drict, he was the local Bachchan.
“His films have had a huge influence on me, the start of my love for cinema. In my growing up years, till the time I was in tenth standard– before I failed and moved away from cinema — he was my world. I was such a big Bachchan fan that there’s no film of his that I would have missed watching,” the director told PTI.
The megastar’s films like Yaarana, Main Azaad Hoon, Deewaar, Khuda Gawah and Satte Pe Satta had a huge impact on him, he asserted.
The filmmaker said he watched Satte Pe Satta close to 50 times, sneaking in cinema halls to only catch the entry sequence of Amitabh Bachchan as killer Babu .
“I would have watched the film minimum 50 times in those days just for that sequence and return home or sometimes only go to watch that sequence! Such was his influence on me. I would watch three-four film shows of his, in a single day!”
From dressing up like his cinema icon, to mouthing his dialogues, Manjule said he adapted Bachchan’s on screen persona in every way possible.
“Main itna bada deewana tha (I was such a huge fan). I would copy his style, tie my shirt in knots like him from Deewaar and go to school. I would often get punished too, but never stopped. Basically, main apne aapko Bachchan samjhta tha (I thought I was Bachchan) and would roam around like him, mouthing his dialogues,” he added.
The 43-year-old director is now gearing up for his latest Jhund, which is headlined Amitabh Bachchan.
The film features the megastar as Vijay Barse, a Nagpur-based retired sports teacher who pioneers a slum soccer movement.
For Manjule, collaborating with his favourite arte was surreal.
“It was daunting when I would think, how will I possibly be able to work with him. Before Jhund, I had only worked with non actors. So I would think what would be the process, how will I direct him. But credit to him, he really never made me feel any pressure or burden.”
The filmmaker said he knew working with the 79-year-old screen icon was a once in a lifetime opportunity and hence he wanted to make the most of the opportunity.
“I was careful that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. Someone whose work you have seen only on the screen and now you get a chance to collaborate, that was huge. I lived every moment with him, every second of working with Bachchan sir was precious,” he added.
Jhund is produced Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Raaj Hiremath, Savita Raj Hiremath, Manjule, Gargee Kulkarni and Meenu Aroraa under the banners of T-Series, Tandav Films Entertainment and Aatpat.
The film is scheduled to release on March 4.