THE FIRST LADIES
She's the First Lady of Indian cinema. A superstar, she chose to ditch the greasepaint at the peak of her career and instead perfected the art of being the wife of a living legend.
She's the mother to beat all mothers and a devoted grandmother.
She's still one of the most acclaimed actresses of Hindi cinema. Please welcome the lady with the most famous surname in the country – Mrs Jaya Bachchan.
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla in conversation with her...
Abu: Jaya you being Jaya Bachchan, what per cent are you Jaya and what per cent are you Bachchan now?
Jaya: Jaya you know...and Bachchan is nice, calm and quiet!
Sandeep: You've been married to Amitji for 35 years. That's a long time. What's the secret recipe to a great marriage.
Jaya: Respect, understanding and space.
Abu: Going back in time, when you both did your first film, did you spot the legend in him?
Jaya: I didn't need to do the first film to know that he was going to be a legend.
Sandeep: So when did you first spot it?
Jaya: Is this interview about him or me!?
Sandeep: It's about you!!
Abu: When did you meet Amitji ?
Jaya: I first saw Amitji in the Institute. I saw him and liked him and told my friends, “He's got a personality.” They said, “What? He looks like a stick!”
He was very, very thin. His face was full of his eyes. I remember I fought with my friends and I said, “He's different.”
Abu: Jaya was it love at first sight?
Sandeep: When did you decide to be an actor?
Jaya: That was not my ambition. My ambition was to join the army, my ambition was to do foreign affairs you know these things maybe a lawyer.
Things like this interested me. I never thought I'd become an actor.
Sandeep: Jaya from the struggling days in FTI to today, how has the journey been?
Jaya: Sandeep, I really didn't have to struggle. To be very fair and very honest. I got films before I passed out of the Institute. I had Guddi I had Uphaar I had two Bengali films.
In fact, when I was in the Institute in my first year, Mrinal Sen had offered me Bhuvan Shome.
Sandeep: Oh my God! I remember seeing it in school.
Jaya: And the Government didn't allow me to do it. They said, if we allow one student to start working, we'll have to allow the others!
Abu: But Jaya you did Satyajit Ray's Mahanagar...
Jaya: When I was 13, I was selected to work in Mahanagar by Satyajit Ray. Anyways, I was more interested in Cadbury chocolates than Satyajit Ray at that age!
But 13-year-old girls were more innocent at that time.
Sandeep: You started the fashion of these clog heels and the works...
Jaya: Yeah, in Metro Shoes, they used to have it on the window. And they would call it Jaya Bhaduri Shoes! It was so embarrassing.
Sandeep: Jaya what is your take on fashion and style today?
Jaya: I don't believe in fashion. I never believed in fashion. I believe in style. But I believe in personal style more than style.
If it comes naturally to you that's fine. If it doesn't, let it be. I can't handle wannabes.
Sandeep: You've been the Mover and Shaker...
Jaya: Have I?
Sandeep: Of course! You are the one who...
Jaya: I'm the one who, really shakes and moves very badly, if you have seen my performances in a dance sequence! I'm the worst in the family.
Sandeep: But really you are the one who started Saraswati Telefilms so many years ago...you started Dekh Bhai Dekh a serial with unimaginable budgets in those days.
Then it all went with ABCL coming into it. Funny times came...Your own baby that you created, did it go to wrong hands?
Jaya: You know, we're probably not very good working with a large number of people. We are probably much better working with a smaller number of people.
Abu: But then Kaun Banega Crorepati came...
Jaya: Can you imagine I never wanted him to do it!
Jaya: I don't know, I just somehow felt it was somewhere not correct to shrink him into a small screen.
Sandeep: Amitji has nothing to prove! He has proved everything and beyond. He's been there and done that.
But what still drives him? He just keeps going.
Jaya: He has to prove at home everyday, he's a good father, he's a good husband, he's a good head of the family...it's tough.
Abu: Even in his career, he's such a hardworking person. He's still on the go...
Jaya: Abu more than hard work, I think he's sincere. He's a dedicated person who believes in commitments. There are no shortcuts for him. And I never want him to slow down.
Sandeep: And you are pretty much the same?
Jaya: I'm easier but I need to work. I can't sit quietly. If I don't get to work in films or if I do not have Parliament now, I choose to pick up the phone and bugaboo Sandeep to do something!
Sandeep: How did you decide to get married? How did it all happen?
Jaya: We all decided, a group of friends that if Zanjeer did well, we'd go on a holiday to London. And it did well but Amitji's parents said, “You can't go on a holiday with a girl without being married to her!
Of course, he'd told his parents that, “This is the girl, I want to marry.” So he said, “What's the big deal, we'll get married!”
Sandeep: So one fine day...
Jaya: We just decided! I was shooting in Calcutta and he called me...I was shooting for a Bengali film and he said this is what happened and I said, “Well, it's okay with me but you'll have to ask my parents.”
He said, “I'll call them and call you back.” He then spoke to my parents.
Sandeep: Then you came to live with your in-laws. How was it?
Jaya: There is a difference between a daughter and a daughter-in-law. I don't know why, but you feel you don't need to respect your parents as a daughter!
You take them for granted. With your in-laws you can't do that! Today I feel more a Bachchan than a Bhaduri.
Sandeep: Here's what Mr Bachchan has to say about you...
Jaya: It better be good, if he wants his dinner!
Amitabh Bachchan: We both chose to spend the rest of our lives together as husband and wife. She is from the Industry and she is very grounded to our culture and our ethos.
I felt that she would be an ideal person to bring into our family and I'm very happy with my decision.
She's a very independent-minded lady. Her beliefs are very original, very natural, very simple. She's not full of any kind of intrigue. She's very basic.
But she's very strong in what she believes and once she makes up her mind about something it's very difficult to alter it.
Most of the time, we have found that her basics are always right when her beliefs come. She's also somebody who has an uncanny sixth sense about people, about events, about situations.
Most of time, we go to her when we want some kind of an opinion or a decision because she just has some kind of an uncanny sixth sense. She will say, “This person is not good.” or “This person is very good.”
Even before she has met them or been told that this is whom we want to consider for this job or we want to take him into the company or we want to do a movie with him or whatever...
So these are some of the assets she has.
Jaya: Thank God, only assets!
Sandeep: So he will get his dinner...
Jaya: Yes, I will give him his dinner not because of what he says but because I care for him.
Sandeep: What do you have to say about the sixth sense?
Jaya: I don't think it's me really. I think all housewives, who are handling so many people have a very sharp sixth sense.
Sandeep: Have you been off on occasions?
Jaya: Yes, like KBC!
Sandeep: Jaya, when Abhishek decided to get into movies, were you at all worried?
Jaya: Abhishek is an intelligent boy...
Sandeep: Exactly so...
Jaya: But who said that you don't need intelligence to become an actor? I think you should give him the freedom and then life teaches you.
Abu: We know you were a very strict parent. Are you the same as a mother-in-law?
Jaya: Very strict parent. Strict mother-in-law? She's not my daughter, she's my daughter-in-law!
Why should I be strict with her? I'm sure her mother has done that for her.
Sandeep: When you see Shweta and Niki, don't you think they are more hands-on parents?
Jaya: I think Shweta is very much like me.
I'll have to wait to see Aishwarya when she becomes a mother...how she handles.
Then I'll be able to answer your question but I think that she would be a good mother.
Abu: Amitji stays away from politics and you have a passion for politics...
Jaya: I don't have a passion for politics but I believe in correctness.
Sandeep: Jaya calls a spade a spade.
Jaya: I'm the earth and Amitji is the moon!
Abu: Jaya there are a few questions for you that don't come from us -
Hrithik Roshan: Jaya aunty, you know when Abhishek and I used to play as children, at the house or parties, I remember you always being there and instructing us, “Not to do this or do that” or “This is good and that is bad.”
And we used to listen and look up to you and try to be our best. Now we both are actors and in the same career. I'm sure Abhishek, still gets the same instruction from you...
I'm missing that! I know you love me.
I wish you would feel free to tell me where
I have gone right or wrong as an actor or as a person.
Just judge me and let me know, as we need that as children. That's the guidance that helps us grow.
Jaya: This is very emotional for me. I mean I have seen you grow. I think what you have done with yourself is fantastic.
The kind of discipline that you have, the kind of hard work that you have put into who you are today is fantastic.
The only thing I have a problem with, Hrithik you are too perfect! Sometimes imperfect is also attractive. Chill, relax.
Abu: There's another question -
Maharani Padmini Devi: Jaya which is your favourite role in life? Is it daughter, actress, wife, mother or grandmother?
Jaya: Grandmother, that's a very easy question Padmini! Of course, grandmother, no responsibilities!
Abu: Another question for you -
Karan Johar: What is tougher to handle: A superstar husband or a superstar son?
Jaya: Handling a superstar is tough whether it's the husband or the son! It's from the same parcel.
Sandeep: Time for three simple questions that will help us uncover the dynamics of your relationship with Amitji. Three simple words: Hooked, Booked, Cooked?
Abu: But you have to answer the first two! Who Hooked and Booked whom?
Jaya: I just said Cooked! What else do you want? It's Hook and Book and everything comes together!
Sandeep: You are Cooked?
Jaya: I'm Cooked! Do you doubt it, 35 years, what do you think?
Sandeep: It's Confession time for you Jaya... Three Confessions on Love, Kiss and Kill.
Jaya: I Love children. I Love flowers...
Jaya: I Kiss my husband and children on the lips.
Sandeep: And Kill?
Jaya: I would want to Kill people who do wrong things knowing that they are doing something wrong.
Sandeep: Jaya Bachchan Ko gussa kyo aata hai ? (What makes you mad?)
Jaya: Yeh batana bahut mushkil hai. (It's so difficult to say...) Gussa batamizi se aata hai (Bad behaviour makes me mad). Indiscipline makes me angry.
I can't handle people who try and act too smart.
Sandeep: Is marriage over-rated?
Sandeep: What's the role that's closest to your heart?
Jaya: I think my favourite would be Guddi.
Sandeep: Favourite actor?
Jaya: Indian cinema, Dilip Kumar of course!
Sandeep: Your favourite film?
Jaya: I think all Dilip Kumar films are my favourite films! I love Hum Saath Saath. I don't know how many times I have seen that film!
Sandeep: Jaya, your best co-star of all times?
Jaya: Saying Amitabh Bachchan would be very boring nah? But what to say, he is the best co-star!
Abu: What is your most favourite Amitji movie?
Jaya: Oh I love Saudagar.
Abu: Which is Amitji's favourite performance according to you?
Jaya: I loved him in Amar Akbar Anthony. I think he was amazing!
Abu: What's the performance he's most proud of?
Jaya: I think Black.
Sandeep: What's more important: To be a great actor or a big star?
Jaya: Great actor.
Sandeep: What's more important: To be happy or to be married?
Jaya: To be happy.
Sandeep: What's better: To be a good parent or a good provider?
Jaya: A good parent.
Sandeep: Would you rather speak your mind or be diplomatic?
Jaya: Speak my mind.
Abu: Jaya complete the following sentences – Laughter is?
Jaya: The healthiest thing in your life.
Abu: Love is?
Jaya: Good for your heart.
Abu: Possessiveness is?
Abu: Children are?
Abu: Money is?
Jaya: Can be lived without.
Abu: Fame is?
Sandeep: What irritates you most about Amitji?
Jaya: He's a hoarder!
Sandeep: What's the one thing that gives you sleepless nights?
Sandeep: What's the one thing that gives Amitji sleepless nights?
Sandeep: What's the one thing you love about being Mrs Amitabh Bachchan?
Jaya: Amitabh Bachchan!
Sandeep: What's the one thing you hate about being Mrs Amitabh Bachchan?
Jaya: I don't hate.
Sandeep: What's the most lovable thing about Amitji?
Jaya: His fairness.
Sandeep: What's the longest time you both have spent apart?
Jaya: Very difficult, I think when he was in hospital.
Sandeep: What's the one thing you both love doing together?
Jaya: Sitting quietly and doing our own thing.
Abu: Jaya, I'm going to ask you a few questions which will decide who is the Boss in the family? Who remembers birthdays?
Jaya: I do but so does he.
Abu: Who decides the family holidays?
Jaya: Well, we all discuss it but ultimately it's he who decides.
Abu: Who is the bigger flirt?
Abu: Who starts a fight?
Abu: Who makes up first?
Abu: Who keeps up with friends?
Abu: Who's a softer parent?
Abu: Who never forgives and forgets?
Jaya: Moi! Me.
Sandeep: Who controls the bank accounts?
Sandeep: Who decides the menu?
Sandeep: Who gives the better presents?
Sandeep: Who's more romantic?
Jaya: Well, I don't know what that means...but he sends more flowers than I do!
Sandeep: Who has the last word?
Sandeep: It's a close call but you are the Boss.
Jaya: Am I? I shall tell him so tonight!