Amitabh Bachchan recalls roaming the streets of Lucknow pretending to be a tourist, dressed in his distinct “Gulabo Sitabo” get-up, while he was shooting for the Shoojit Sircar film in that city.
With a long beard, old-school spectacles, a headscarf and a prosthetically-pronounced nose, Bachchan looks dramatically different in the film. Once in get-up, Bachchan would freely go for a walk without the fear of being recognised.
“As we wanted every scene to be absolutely authentic and real, there were many shots situated in the absolute heart and congested streets of Hazratganj and Chowk, it is quite unbelievable to contemplate shooting scenes there! We used to shoot in the tiny charming alleys and gully of old Lucknow. We would get ready, and try to finish the shoots within an hour or so, so as not to draw too many crowds in the small lanes,” Sircar said.
“Very few people realised what was happening and mostly nobody recognised Mr Bachchan, which was our aim. I did not want him to look like Amitabh Bachchan in the film, I wanted him to look and sound like Mirza, and that was what we achieved. Yes, after our shoots wrapped, he would often stroll around in the bylanes, chatting with the local people and experiencing the city, with nobody recognising who he was,” Sircar added.
In “Gulabo Sitabo”, Bachchan is seen as Mirza, the landlord of an old depleted ‘haveli’ (mansion) in the heart of Lucknow, named Fatima Mahal, while Ayushmann Khurrana is his shrewd tenant, Baankey. Their situation is similar to that of Tom and Jerry, with witty banter adding to the quirk element.
“Gulabo Sitabo” is written by Juhi Chaturvedi and produced by Ronnie Lahiri and Sheel Kumar.
The film will premiere worldwide on June 12 on Amazon Prime Video.