'I am a Big B fan for life'
...says Sairat fame Nagaraj Manjule, whose debut Hindi film will have Amitabh Bachchan playing a real-life character
After playing a Bal Thackeray doppelganger in Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar series, the indefatigable Amitabh Bachchan will play another real-life character in Sairat-director Nagaraj Manjule's next film, which will mark his debut in Hindi cinema. In this yet untitled film, Big B will be playing Barse, who more than a decade ago, established the Nagpur-based NGO, Slum Soccers, which helps slum kids find themselves through the game of football.
Though he is more than happy to speak about his adulation for Bachchan, Manjule is reluctant to talk about the project he will start shooting with the megastar in October. "Let's just say it is based on a real-life character. But the way I've written the part and the film, it moves very far away from the original source," he says.
Manjule has reportedly been writing his new Bachchan film for a good two years.
"And before that, I was researching on the subject. I don't mind spending as much time on a script. I spent a good eight years on the script of Sairat," he says. In fact, Nagaraj reveals that he wrote the script with Bachchan in mind. "I've been his fan from childhood."
The director grew up, copying the speaking style and mannerisms of Big B. "I'd go to school with my shirt tied like Bachchan Saab in Deewaar and get severely reprimanded by my teachers. But the punishment had no effect on me. I'd still do it," he says.
Manjule, a self-confessed 'Bachchan bhakt', says when he met Bachchan, he was somehow able to control his adulation.
"I don't know how but I managed to remain calm, restrained and dignified. I actually wanted to jump out of my seat and dance around him. But I narrated my script in an even tone. I am happy I did that. I didn't want to come across as just a fan. Of course I am a fan for life. And someday, when I complete my film with him, I'll tell him how much effort it took me to not gush and rave when I met him for the first time," he says.
The director hopes to just focus on making a good film. He adds, "I don't feel burdened by the responsibility of living up to Sairat. But yes, I want the audience to say I made a good film again. I don't want people to say, 'Yeh Nagaraj ne kya banaya hai?'"