Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has recalled how he roped in actor Amitabh Bachchan to do his first film, Aks. In his autobiography, The Stranger in the Mirror, Rakeysh described himself ‘quivering like a fiddle string’ when he showed the script of Aks to Amitabh.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra said he got a call nearly at midnight from Amitabh Bachchan asking what he was drinking while writing the script of Aks. The filmmaker said ‘rum and coke’ and Amitabh responded with ‘let’s do it’.
In a note titled Let’s Do It in The Stranger in the Mirror, Rakeysh wrote, “It was the winter of 1998. I had given Amit ji (Amitabh Bachchan) a script that he was supposed to read over an evening flight to Delhi (Hope springs eternal!). I was quivering like a fiddle string, excited with anticipation, about what he would think.”
He continued, “Unexpectedly, my phone rang at 11 p.m. A hushed voice spoke to me, whispering and yet managing to drown the mechanical, oddly piercing background noise of a plane making its way after landing. AB: What were you drinking? Me: Sorry sir! AB: What were you drinking when you wrote this script? Me: Rum and Coke, sir. AB: Let’s do it!”
Rakeysh concluded, “And just like that, the greatest star in Indian cinema, probably world cinema, was going to be a part of my first film, Aks.” He also wrote, “Aks, a film that gave birth to a director. Amitabh Bachchan, a supreme artist who gave voice to the director in me.”
Aks, a supernatural action thriller, was released in 2001. It also featured Raveena Tandon and Manoj Bajpayee. A cult classic, the film won three awards at the 47th Filmfare Awards–Best Actor Critics (Amitabh Bachchan), Special Award Performance (Raveena Tandon), and Best Sound Design. Amitabh and Manoj were also nominated for Best Actor and Best Villain at the same event.
The Stranger in the Mirror has been co-written by marketer-author Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta. It is peppered with anecdotes from Rakeysh’s life–from the ‘chai-biscuit’-hostel days to the popping of the proverbial champagne.
The book features first-person accounts of Waheeda Rahman, AR Rahman, Manoj Bajpayee, Abhishek Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Sonam Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Ronnie Screwvala, Atul Kulkarni, R Madhavan, Divya Dutta and Prahlad Kakar. It has a foreword by AR Rahman and an afterword by Aamir Khan.