Working on "Cheeni Kum," Amitabh Bachchan taught me professionalism and humility, according to Alexx O'Nell - Exclusive


Have you ever felt stereotypically cast in or denied ethnically-based roles in Bollywood?

I'm confident that my appearance has cost me opportunities in both directions. I'm positive that my appearance had a part in my being cast for a role. I've come to the conclusion that my only options are to choose the right projects, give my all, and keep developing my abilities. I just don't have time to think about the opportunities I miss up on. There is no energy left over after juggling acting, music, family, and adventure activities (primarily paragliding, diving, and motorcycling).

My parts in movies and television shows like "Aarya," "Sweet Kaaram Coffee," "Roohi," "Main Aur Charls," "Golondaaj," and "Madrasappattinam," to name a few, have all been exceptional and incredibly satisfying. I am really appreciative that people enjoy my work and that cities and audiences continue to make me amazing opportunities.

The people I have worked with recently and/or frequently, like Akshay Kumar and I have recently shot together, come to mind first. In 2012, we co-starred in the film "Joker." He is a great scene companion and is always pleasant to catch up with. And curiously, Prabhu Deva does the same thing. He always throws in a quick aside that can catch you off guard if you're not expecting it. 

I recently worked with Pratik Gandhi on the film "Phule," and after our shoot, we shared a really fantastic supper at the hotel while discussing movies, martial arts, health, and so much more.

I co-wrote Aarya with Sushmita Sen, and one of my favorite memories from that shoot is playing pool with her late into the night and watching 'The Godfather' with her in an outdoor theater in the Chomu Palace courtyard in Rajasthan.

I've collaborated with Rajkummar Rao on three projects over the years: "Chittagong," "Bose," and "Roohi," and I always enjoy talking to him and catching up on everything that has transpired since we first met. The list is endless.

Do you hang out with any buddies that work in the industry?

Over the years, I have developed a number of sincere connections with numerous members of the entertainment industry. It's always beneficial to have pals who are familiar with the intricacies of the business, have similar interests, and can serve as a sounding board for creative approaches to a job or a song. However, I also have to admit that I genuinely value the friendships I build with the folks I collaborate with on each new project. Even though we are not particularly tight, I always like catching up with them whether it's on or off the set. As people advance from being assistants to department heads, DOPs, and directors themselves after working in this field for some time, as I have, it is inevitable that you will keep running across them. Seeing the growth of those you care about is quite amazing.

You made your Bollywood debut in the Amitabh Bachchan film "Cheeni Kum," and you also appeared in "Chehre." How has your interaction with the megastar been?

My first significant Bollywood film was "Cheeni Kum," and I still clearly recall my time on set with Amitabh Bachchan. He taught me a lesson in professionalism and humility, and I carry that lesson with me every time I film. Even though I was a complete novice to Indian cinema, he would still practice with me before our sequences, and once his closeup was through, he would stand on his mark and offer cues for my closeup. He didn't need to practice with me, and a helper could have given the cues just as easily, but he had the class and the professionalism to handle it alone. I also attempt to teach this lesson by example because I think actors should act, not only because it's the right thing to do professionally. Even when no one is watching, we should still take pleasure in acting.


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