Abhishek Bachchan on his new Amazon series Breathe: Into the Shadows

Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images

From Digital Spy

Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan is as close to royalty as the Indian film fraternity gets. His parents Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan are legends in the industry and adored by millions of fans worldwide. He is married to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the first Bollywood actor who crossed over to Hollywood with projects like Bride and Prejudice and Pink Panther 2.

Abhishek himself has a large fan following around the globe and has just last month celebrated two decades since his debut film Refugee.

Moving with the times, Abhishek is now making his digital debut in Amazon Prime Video's original series Breathe: Into The Shadows.

Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images

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Speaking to DigitalSpy on the eve of the premiere of his series, the 44-year-old actor discussed how streaming services (and Covid-19) have changed the industry. [NB Bachchan announced that he – along with his father, wife and daughter – had tested positive for Covid-19 shortly after the interview took place.]

It’s been quite a journey for you – 20 years in the Hindi film industry as an actor, producer and live performer. Where do you see your journey heading now, after adding a TV series to that list?

"The best part about the future is that you don’t really know where it’s headed. I look back on my twenty years with gratitude. I’m very happy and can’t complain. I’ve said this a few times, an actor is truly blessed and lucky to get even one film.

Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video
Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

"For me, to have had opportunities for twenty-years is truly a blessing and I thank the audience for it, while at the same time hoping to entertain them for the next twenty more years. There are many stories to tell and a lot more work to be done. I feel like I’m just getting started, I’m very excited."

We're sure that many have been asking you to describe the difference of working on film and a series such as having more freedom. As an actor, did you approach anything differently?

"As far as the acting bit is concerned, whatever medium it is, it’s pretty much the same. Originally there used to be a difference in your approach if you were acting on a stage as opposed to film. Film is a lot more close up than stage, and for stage you have to perform for the person sitting in the front row up until the last row.

"There’s always been that stark difference between acting for theatre and film. That difference has not continued with film and series produced for a digital platform. At the end of the day, the technique is the same, but you just do a lot more filming."

With Covid-19 and physical distancing, streaming platforms have found an even bigger audience and reach than before, even though it’s been a rising market for a few years now. Do you think this is an advantage for the series?

"Honestly, it is an advantage. A lot of people around the world are still staying at the safety of their home. We have an opportunity to reach out to them with the work we’ve done over the last two years. So yes, it will be beneficial and I’m thankful for that."

As with the platforms changing, marketing and promotions have adapted as well. How has your experience been promoting the series over platforms such as ZOOM for the series?

"I can’t lie, but I’ve always liked the promotional bit of travelling, going out and meeting fans and audiences. I miss going out physically and the fun it was to meet people and have the crew together travelling for press junkets.

Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video
Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

"I’ve been doing video interviews from home over the last few weeks and I fear there will be actors who might not want to return to promotional activities that involve travelling. We can promote our show or movies from home and it’s done so efficiently. We can get a lot more work done as there is no travelling time. It’s the new way of life and I’ve also enjoyed it."

With films and series now being produced specifically for streaming services, do you think that Indian cinema and the entertainment industry can reach not just the target audience but those who wouldn’t typically watch Indian content, especially because Original content is being dubbed in various languages?

"I think its all dependent on the intention of the makers. If you intend for the product to be consumed by audiences worldwide, then you make it keeping that in mind. Speaking about Breathe: Into The Shadows, when I was offered the show, the first season had already premiered on Amazon Prime Video.

"It had amassed a huge viewership, especially in India. From there we had to be conscious that there is an audience outside of India, who may not understand the pitch and tenor of an Indian sentiment.

"Hence, we tried to work that into it without losing our culture. It is in Indian show and we didn’t want to make it out to be an international show but we included elements in it. I dubbed it myself as I speak English and it was only right for me to do it, to get the right emotions across.

"Honestly, I don’t know what kind of international audience the show will attract. The one thing I’m excited about is that all my boarding-school friends, who live abroad and are in the majority foreigners, will be able to watch it.

"It’s the first project of mine they will be able to watch on the release date and in English. They are very excited and have been messaging me about it. It also validates that there is a new audience, who will watch the series. Hopefully, Breathe will be palatable to an international audience.

The series seems dark, intense, and full of suspense. What attracted you to it as you agreed to do it immediately after hearing the first pitch?

"I had returned to Mumbai wrapping a film I was shooting in Amritsar called Manmarziyaan. I met the creators and heard the basic plot lines for half an hour. I said yes based on that narration. I just knew it’s something that was appealing to me. It was a great role for me to do."

Breathe: Into the Shadows is available on Amazon Prime Video now

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