December 3, 2009 / 9:33 AM / 9 years ago

India's Bachchan reverts to childhood in unusual film

PANAJI, India (Reuters Life!) - An unusual Indian film that casts 68-year-old Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan as a 13-year-old school boy, with his own son playing the lead, has the world’s most prolific film industry buzzing.

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan poses for a picture on the sets of television reality show "Bigg Boss" in the western Indian state of Maharashtra November 13, 2009. REUTERS/Manav Manglani

In “Paa,” Bachchan plays Auro, a teenager afflicted with progeria, a rare genetic condition that causes a person to age faster than normal.

And, in an ironic twist, the role of Auro’s father is being played by Bachchan’s actor son, Abhishek.

“The director of the film came up with the idea that he wanted me to play my father’s father and we set about looking for a plausible reason to do that. That is when we came upon progeria,” Abhishek Bachchan told Reuters.

Posters for the film, made on a budget of around $3 million, show an almost unrecognizable Amitabh Bachchan, with a large bald head, bulging eyes, and buck teeth, wearing a school uniform.

The film, however, focuses on the relationship between father and son, and doesn’t “talk about the tragic life of a progeria victim,” Abhishek said.

Bachchan’s role and heavy make-up, which took five hours to apply, is uncommon in Bollywood, which generally puts out films that revolve round love stories and trademark song-and-dance sequences, or more commonplace social or political themes.

“The make up was the toughest part, but I don’t want anyone to think that this is a film about progeria. This is a father-son story at its heart,” director R. Balakrishnan said.

Bachchan, one of India’s most well-known and respected actors, said he was intrigued by the fact that he would play his own son’s son, but Abhishek said he deliberately distanced himself from that real-life relationship.

“We are actors and we know that when the camera is rolling, all relationships go out of the window. As an actor I can’t be thinking, “oh, he is my father, and I am playing his father.’ That just messes with your head,” he said.

“Paa” opens in more than 700 cinemas in 20 countries on Friday.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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