Monday, June 21, 2010

On Abhishek Bachchan and His Acting

I've gotten a little flack from some Abhishek Bachchan fans the last few days due to my gleeful reporting of all the bad press he has received for his role in
Raavan. Am I naturally a spiteful person? Perhaps. But there are a handful of Bollywood actors and actresses that I find intolerable in any role and am baffled when they receive good press. While I certainly enjoy the big stars like Shahrukh and Aamir, most of the Bollywood celebrities I love are the ones who shine as hard as they can without much support. So, when the loud mouth of the media jumps on one of my (many) bandwagons, I get a little over-excited. Sometimes, I get gleeful over the triumph of Katrina Kaif or, in this case, it happens to be my dislike of Abhishek Bachchan.

Let's get one thing straight - I have nothing against star children. Heck, Ranbir Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan are two of the most talented actors working in Bollywood today and they both have impeccable pedigrees. While I do have a theory that the outsiders who make it into Bollywood are more exciting to watch (i.e. Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, and my beloved Arshad Warsi), I am not automatically prejudiced against star children.

So, what is it about Abhishek that gets me all riled up?

I first saw Abhishek in action in
Bluffmaster. Then, as now, I enjoy silly comedies. I also enjoy bling and con artists who get conned by their own hearts. But for all of Abhi's posturing, the only person actually acting in Bluffmaster was Riteish Deshmukh.

Did you notice that I didn't say that I liked things that are 'cool'? The whole point of 'cool' is to look like you aren't trying and, boy, does Abhishek have that covered. That's strike one against him. I would rather watch somebody trying really hard - like Hrithik does - than somebody not trying at all. In films like
Bluffmaster and Dhoom, Abhishek seems to think that his presence onscreen should be enough for us. It is not.

Talent may be natural to an extent but it takes time and practice to turn raw talent into something like Hrithik dancing ability. I find it insulting that Abhishek has never bothered to learn how to dance. Not having an aptitude is no excuse - if Saif Ali Khan can learn to pose his way through songs, then why is Abhishek too good to do it? Oh, yes, that's right. Abhi is 'cool.' Too cool to learn how to dance or act properly.

The flip side of the 'cool' persona are the films where he tries - and frankly, they are embarrassing. Did anybody see
Guru? The forced nature of that performance was uncomfortable for me to watch - it was like "Serious Acting" (with the full force of the dick quotes intended) rather than acting. Has anyone see Sehar? Arshad Warsi gives the most amazing, still, solemn, reserved performance in that film - acting. Abhishek Bachchan in Guru is fresh out of an Acting 101 college seminar. Embarrassing.

But who gets the praise? Abhishek. Why? Because of who his Daddy is.

Yes, Abhi isn't the only lazy star son out there - Saif has turned in more than a few lazy performances but the difference is that Saif can knock it out when it matters. I'm even willing to give Harman Baweja another shot if he signs a film I'm interested in - at least Harman has bothered to learn how to dance.

There are exactly two films that I've enjoyed Abhishek in -
Dostana and Bunty aur Babli. The first because he shared more on-screen chemistry with John Abraham than with any female co-star I've ever seen him with and the latter because it's the only popular film that I've seen where he has put some effort into his acting and dancing.

Now, maybe some will disagree with me on my take on Abhi's "Serious Acting" skills and that is fair - we all have different tastes when it comes to acting. I prefer multifaceted actors like Akshay Kumar and Arshad Warsi, whose very presence lends a dignity to the stupidest of roles. Replace Arshad in
Munnabhai MBBS and you have a pretentious dramedy. Replace Akshay in Singh is Kinng and you have B-grade comedy. Replace Abhi with almost anybody in almost any of his films and you are taking a step up.

But I would like to quote the man himself on his own acting abilities: (
from this interview)

AR: What's been your favorite role to date?
AB: I think being a son, more than being an actor in particular, I think being my father's son has been my favorite role. I enjoy the fact that I'm his son. I enjoy the responsibility he gives me.

If he doesn't care about being an actor, why should I care about his acting? That is what is so infuriating about Abhishek Bachchan. Yes, it's sweet that he loves his Daddy but wanting to prove something to Daddy is not enough to get the job done. (If it was, George W. Bush would have been the best president of the United States of all time.

So, add to all this, his obnoxious spoiled brat persona that has revealed itself fully on Twitter (rape jokes are not funny), and you have an actor whose bad reviews I will enjoy with a huge dollop of schadenfreude.


Ness said...

I...TOTALLY disagree but you know what? That's okay. I doubt I will ever understand why you love Katrina Kaif so much, and based on what I just read I don't think you'll ever see Abhishek the way I see him.

But man, I'm not here to argue about it or to try and convince anyone to change their mind :) Points of difference are what make things interesting.

Natty said...

Hi, I have been reading your blog for a while and think it's great. I don't appreciate AB Jr.'s bratty behavior and definitely don't think he is the greatest actor of all time but
I do think that he did pretty well in Yuva, Bluffmaster and Guru.
I think the difference between Abhishek and other star kids is that his star power father still acts and is in the media so much; it doesn't give AB Jr. any real chance but to be his father's son and instead of denying it, has completely accepted it (or so it seems from the lines you quoted).
Raakesh Roshan was never a big star actor; Rishi Kappoor was a star but does character roles and is not usually playing the lead.
Additionally, I give him kudos for having a star power wife (who does sometimes overshadow him), both husband and wife are actors at the same time and that rarely happens in the Hindi film industry (not that I like her much).
-- natsan on twitter

Filmi Girl said...

@ness True that, my friend. I can have others watch his films and report back to me. :D

@natty Thank you for the compliments and thoughtful comments. I know people are going to get angry but I thought I should explain why I dislike him so much.

You make a good point about the star fathers but I still think Abhi could have both put some effort into his acting AND been his father's son.

lvrplfc4l said...

It's funny I think the first thing I saw him in was Kuch Naa Kaho. I'm the only person I know that liked the movie but I thought he was pretty good and he tried to dance. The problem is he is still giving the same performance there is no growth as an actor. The other thing that bothers me about him is his look and wink at the camera ala Burt Reynolds, yeah it's really me Abhi.
For all peoples disparaging of Aishwarya's acting at least she has shown that a good director can get a good performance from her but until Abhi grows up and stops being his fathers son he will never grow as a actor.

Anonlee said...

I’m sorry but your two examples Hrithik and Ranbir are no better at acting than Abhishek. Hrithik overacts to the hilt and plays off his good looks and dancing ability. Even his acclaimed performance in Jodhaa Akbar seemed forced and not natural to him. As for Ranbir, the jury is still out because he has basically played the same type of character in all his movies so far – middle class/upper middle class slacker or worker. He has not shown the versatility yet of an “actor”.

You seem to have some problem with Abhishek admiring his dad and have taken one comment out of context to prove your point about him not being serious about his acting career. If that had been the case, then he would only play “safe” commercial roles and not the diversity of roles we have seen which usually do not succeed at the box office. Do you really think a non-serious actor, gains 30-40 pounds for a role like Gurubhai which was never going to be a hit commercial movie?

Actually, considering your taste in movies (Akshay and Katrina fan) I find it hard to take you seriously as an expert on “acting”.

BTW, Abhi repeated a rape joke he had heard once and apologized for it immediately. Does that make him a bad person or a spoiled brat? You should have your claws out for the other people in BW who do worse things. And stay away from Akshay/Katrina movies with all the sexism and racism on display.

Then how do you stand Kareena who is always obnoxious? Or Hrithik with his narcissism? Or Shahid with his makeup offscreen and butt pads? Or Ranbir who is a wuss and allowed his mother to badmouth his girlfriend? There are more flawed people in BW than Abhishek my dear.

Plus I give him credit for marrying and supporting a strong woman who is more successful than he is which is something a spoiled brat would never do in my opinion.

Filmi Girl said...

@anonlee Honestly, for all the snarky comments you leave, I find it hard to understand why you even read my blog.

nrmodh said...

hey what rubbish you are saying. want to say that Arshad Warsi is better than Abhishik??

Ya i agree that Abhi is not a good actor but arshid too is a bad actor...

I haven't seen arshad's acting yet though i have seen all of his movies!!!

dayshaze said...

Honestly, I think it's a rather silly premise you've put forth, stating Abhishek is worse than Akshay. Akshay Kumar could not pull off a "Yuva" or a "Guru," unless it was a dishoom-dishoom, tongue-in-cheek take on a billionaire.

Akki works on one level (granted, a level that works for him) - and that is mass appeal with simple, often comedic, plots. Akshay is successful, but I definitely don't respect him as I respect Saif, who has the popularity of Akki, but the chops and self-confidence to wander out of his comfort zone.

Abhishek was going the way of the perpetual chocolate hero, and he took chances - AND THOSE WORKED. I respect him oodles for that.

Oh, I also hated Bluffmaster. It was horrible.

Filmi Girl said...

@nrmodh @dayshaze Look, Bro(s), Akshay Kumar is an amazing actor and I have seen him rock it in so many films - have y'all even seen Khakee?!

You can disagree with me all you want about Abhi but stop bashing Akshay. The man is talented, hard working, and respectful of his fans. He cares about acting as a profession.

The whole reason I wrote this post is that Abhi was bad reviews and I felt he deserved them. Leave everyone else out of it.

Anonlee said...

Abhishek did NOT get bad reviews from every critic or reviewer for Raavan - no need for you to overstate your point. Actually some liked or understood his performance.

Akshay and Katrina (and many other top BW stars) have gotten LOTS of bad reviews in their careers. So by your theory that should qualify them as bad actors. LOL

BTW, I loved Akshay in Khakee - the one time when he truly acted and showed a range of emotions without going over the top.

Filmi Girl said...

@anonlee You are willfully misunderstanding my point and I refuse to engage with you on this any further.

eliza bennet said...

Filmi Girl, thank you for this post. You cared about the comments and chose to explain your point of view. I liked reading it even though -

I don't share your views about Abhi's acting. I agree that he is uneven but when he is good, he is really good. He is one of those who needs a good director to handle him (unfortunately many actors are like that).

Comparisons to other star kids were a bit unfortunate but I completely agree on Ranbir being naturally talented acting wise while I think Abhi and Hrithik need to work on their skills but even if they worked all their lives, they cannot be on a level with someone who has natural talent. But that doesn't mean we do not get to enjoy their performances no?

Guru was not a good film but it was not Abhi's acting that made it bad. Sure he is not the world's best dancer but he is not as bad as when he started, he obviously worked on it.

And I don't think he is getting a pass just because of being Big B's son. I think it works against him. He doesn't have strong followers since he is not a "people's guy". He is healthy, happy, rich, privilidged and married to a georgeous successful woman. And somehow it is not as attractive as a rags to riches success story no? Sometimes it is not easy to cut a guy like that the slack that one would cut to a guy who clawed his way to good life and success in his chosen profession.

Now there are two reasons why I cannot give Abhi up (although his tweets really tried me). Firstly I find him hot for some reason, yeah shallow I know but I'm being honest here. And the second reason is that he is without any complex as far as his wife's success and beauty go. He comes off as being genuinely happy for her and it kills me that his behaviour should be the norm but unfortunately there are not many people, especially men, like that.

And I love Katrina too. Yes she was not the best actor in her first films but she has a lovable screen presence and her acting gets better with each film. I think she is adorable.

And before everyone thinks that I love everyone, I really don't like Arshad Warsi except for when he is Circuit :)

Filmi Girl said...

@Eliza Thank you for your comments! I think we just have different tastes when it comes to the Junior B. :)

I totally understand if you find him attractive - I don't, but that's okay. :D

And you definitely are on to something that his story is not as appealing as a rags-to-riches... but it doesn't mean I'll cut him any slack. LOL!

I've just seen way too many bad performances from him to think it's a fluke - Umrao Jaan is another embarrassing performance from Abhi...

layla-aaron said...

While we may disagree on Abhishek, I think one of the beauties of Bollywood is that there is so much available for everyone to enjoy. If everyone liked all the same actors, it would get rather boring. Name any given star, and you'll find that no single star is totally and utterly loved by everyone. (Not even the King Khan is adored by everyone, nor is Big B.)

So, I don't agree with all that you posted here, but I can (and do) respect and appreciate the effort and time you put into this post. I respectfully agree to disagree on Abhishek, but we can also agree to disagree on Katrina and Kareena too. :)

Sonia said...

The comments are too long so I'll just skip it :P

I'm not a fan of Jr Bachchan. And I agree w/ you about his performance. I don't like Guru that much and definitely don't want to try Yuva when I've watched and loved Ayutha Ezhuthu. (No matter how good Abhishek is in Yuva, he still can't beat Madhavan....)

Damozel said...

Well, I am a long time lurker here, so let me begin by confessing that I love the way you write. And you always have some really interesting news showcased here, so thank you. Most of the times, I do not share your zealous glee about some of the Bollywood stars while I wholeheartedly agree or disagree along with you on the others. So while I totally agree with all that you mentioned about Abhishek, Akshay and Arshad, I do not share your optimism about Kat or Ranbir. But they are your favorites, this is your blog and isn't that the whole point. If I don't prefer Kat, I will just not read further. Really, questioning a poster's opinion on their own blog is taking the whole thing a little too far.
If we all agreed on everything, damn, this world is gonna be so dull.
What I wanted to say in this long winded way was: I appreciate your efforts to explain your like or dislike of an actor. Certainly good arguments: I guess, as your readers, we just have to take it or leave it gracefully.
Keep at it!

KittenChops said...

HI Filmi Girl,

I have been enjoying your blog for a while. I have loved your name and your frisky, tongue in cheek style. I recognize your hard work of making an entry every day and I also think that the way you structure the blog is wonderful. It is great to know that I can just check in on all of BW on your blog.

However your post on AB seemed a bit out of character and full of out of proportion personal "dislike". None can argue with you about any of it, it is born out of your personal reality/experience. (mine is a lot more cheerful) I was just a bit shocked on how strongly it triggers you and how bitter you are about it.

98% of top tier BW actors are friends/family of other(long time) BW dynasties. That seems to be their system. Family and who your parents are is of monumental importance in Indian culture and is viewed in a positive light, people respect that. And I do not think that it should be pitched against the more western ideal of "self made" man/actor. If I recall correctly Kat had become Salman Khan's girlfriend and that Akshay have married Dimple's daughter (real life Luck by Chance? who knows :).... which I am sure moved their career connections up a notch. For sure they work hard, I think ALL actors must be. Being/making it in BW is probably not a cake walk for anyone yet they create the ultimate fantasy/escape for millions of people. Everyone has their favorite and that is cool. I respect yours but somehow I feel that you have not done the same. However I think we are all doing our best and that includes you as well. Thank you.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

OK this is nuts, but I think our minds have been wking alike. I've been feeling guilty about my posts cos I seem to be beating up on w/ Jr. B. You actually make me feel im not alone :D thanks!

Filmi Girl said...

@kittenchops First of all, thank you for your kind comments about my blog.

And re: my post - I thought I made it pretty clear that I don't have anything against star sons. I love Ranbir and Hrithik and Kareena and lots of other 'family' actors and actresses. I just don't think that a family name is any excuse for mediocrity. :)

I guess I just have strong feelings about Bollywood and that extends to the actors and actresses, too. The flip-side of being able to fall in love with a film is the passionate dislike of other films. Some people have these feelings, others don't. Both are valid ways of watching movies. :)

Filmi Girl said...

@shweta I saw your posts!! Maybe I should link to them from mine... *evil laugh*

I just don't get the Abhi-love...

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I get some Abhi love- I see it in Bunty.. and in Bluffmaster. Even in Yuva. But lately hes just been about pulling faces. Also, like u, am feeling the Vikram love. A LOT. Cheers!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

And yeah sure, u can link my posts- they can be illustrative examples for ur posts- or exhibits a & b to the referendum for Ab jr to act :D

Filmi Girl said...

@shweta VIKRAM!!!! LOL!

And after Raavan, Abhi has firmly gone on my Will Not Watch list with Lara Dutta, Piggy Chops, and Uday Chopra.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

No Virkam love? I must have misunderstood :D
And Uday Chopra- rofls :D agreed.

Filmi Girl said...

@shweta Oh, no! There is so much Vikram love going around here - I was LOLing at my over-enthusiasm for Vikram. :)

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

OK, this HAS to be my last comment. Just read the other comments- wth. Abhishek isnt the worst actor on the planet (which u arent calling him anyways), but its ur blog, and u can write anything u like. Why dont the haters understand freedom of speech and expression? Abhi acts like a monkey- hence we criticize him- simple! Stay strong girl!

Filmi Girl said...

@Shweta Thank you! I got so mad at some people who were responding to things that I never said! I never said he was the worst actor on the planet and I never said that I hate star sons!

I just don't think that Abhi deserves special treatment from me because I love his Daddy!

honeycombveils said...

Although he has a likeable quality as a guy, I think that in Abhi's case talent has most definitely skipped a generation.
I agree with one of the other posters that you just don't see growth from him as an actor which proves he has very limited skills. I've seen his dramas and his comedies and I'm afraid he lacks the light touch for the former or the depth for the latter. He's just not a good actor. (but I think HE thinks he is..)

honeycombveils said...

Sorry - I meant the depth for the drama or the light touch for comedy...

It was a loooong day.

sreekala said...

this is then first time im reading ur blog, n boy, am i relieved to hear what u had to say abt abhishek. its infuriating to watch ppl who dont deserve credit ,receive it just coz of their family names. abhi never puts in an honest effort.he almost always takes the audience for granted. i thought yuva was okay, anyways better than the other crap at least.the funny thing is he knows its his family thats the reason he is where he is n still kind of wades in all that adulation like its his individual achievement.he should have killed himself after dhoom 2 or retired early.cant imagine having to see his face over n over again in the future to come . shudders!..!

mainhoonemily said...

Finally getting caught up on your blog after a long while...

I disagree with you about Abhi, but since most of my reasons involve fangirlish crushiness, I'm not going to argue with you. I'll never understand what you see in Akshay or John, so I guess we're even. ;-)

Sneha Jha said...

filmi girl...i cannot believe reading your worlds seemed like my own thoughts were reflecting back at me. i am not cynical but i do think he could have done well in any other profession but acting.good post.

Sneha Jha said...

Wait a minute..I especially liked it when u wrote that despite the fact that he has not achieved anything substantial in his filmy career, there is always a media hype surrounding him. i wonder why. i was watching the raavan premier in london the other day..i was in awe of aishwarya who is responsible for taking india cinema to a whole new level (despite being dramatically they say). however, i was wondering what has abhishek done to be there. i am even more infuriated after he appeared in the new mile sur mera tumhara .

Christine Menefee said...

Wow, this one sure got a lot of response, didn't it? I'm just getting caught up on reading your blog (due to an injury I couldn't manage the computer much). I don't always share your take on things but I always enjoy your writing. Here I do agree with you though. I have just one word (more would be too many) for Abishek: uninteresting. I liked Bunty aur Bubli but that's probably because it was the first Bollywood movie I saw (in years) and it was just fun to see India again. I liked Delhi-6 mainly because it captured for me much of the experience of living there... hmmm, I'm seeing a theme here. Most of his other films and performances bored me. I thought Dostana was pretty awful for a number of reasons, including Abishek's performance (though I think it was great that it was made).

Sami Saayer said...

not that he is my favorite actor or something, but i think you have been a bit too harsh on him. he was pretty good in yuva and guru was not forced. i think he wasnt bad in sarkar either. unfortunately his big hits like dhoom and dostana have been movies with less to do and more to show.

and i also disagree to dance being the criterion of being a good actor. dance is an add-on not the definite need. probably its because hrithikh and arshad both are good dancers, you want everyone to be a good dancer. some of the acting greats have been zero dancers even amir khan is not the best dancer and it does not make him a bad actor.

here are my two cents then.

PS: i like akshay kumar but singh is king WAS a B-grade comedy.

Siva said...

u are bang on target on the crappiest actor of BW today. there are worse actors no doubt, but nobody has survived so long and his sustained stay has really got everything to do with his dad, wife and some serious PR.

u are still way too considerate. i suffer nausea and pangs of infuriating anger when i see him coming uninvited on my tv or have somebody try to support him in a discussion. his ads and PR interviews are enough for me to not go anywhere near his movies. have u heard the latest of his quote -- that HE and UDAY CHOPRA are the backbone of the Dhoom series !! not funny anymore.. he needs serious help.

ys said...

Abhishek Bachan. The BIGGEST NALAYAK ever.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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