Mumbai: In a country that deifies cinema, the Indian film actor is the final frontier of celebrity. In a session at Mint’s Luxury Conference (25-26 March), Abhishek Bachchan, now a veteran of 51 films, provided an insight into the psyche of the Indian film actor and his approach to luxury. Bachchan takes his endorsements seriously, putting in a great deal of research before signing on with a brand.
The actor’s next film, Game, releases on 1 April. Edited excerpts from an interview with Mint:
What are the criteria involved when you decide to endorse a brand?
Primarily, it is if I use it or if I’d be willing to start using it. What the brand stands for is an important factor as well. I spend a lot of time verifying and researching the brands I choose to endorse.
You’ve been associated with Omega for the last five years. What do you know about the brand?
I’ve spent time studying the watch’s internal mechanism and movements; visiting Omega’s manufacturing units and ateliers.
For one, the watch company has pioneered the coaxial movement, which reduces friction between its cogs and makes their timepieces more accurate.
At your session, you mentioned that the first designer product you owned was an Armani suit gifted by your father when you were 16. What was the first luxury brand you bought yourself?
While I was in boarding school in Switzerland, we were on a family vacation in London and I hadn’t packed any formal wear. A theatre outing came up and we’d always been brought up to dress formally for the theatre as a mark of respect for the performers. So my father bought me an Emporio Armani suit—I still have it somewhere in my closet.
Promoting a cause: Abhishek Bachchan says he would like to front a brand associated with a charity or a mission. Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
It’s strange I don’t remember the first brand I bought myself.
If you had the luxury to spend without a glass ceiling...
I would buy clothes, yes, because they’re an important part of my public appearances as an actor. But my real luxury would be time with family.
If there was a brand you could pick to represent, which would it be?
Something I truly associated with growing up—Atari (laughs). On a serious note, it doesn’t have to be a product. I’d like to front a brand associated with a charity or a mission. Something like Unicef, perhaps.
Do you put together your wardrobe yourself?
Yes. In India, actors are treated differently from the West, where stylists and brands put together your look and all you have to do is make that phone call. While stylists are increasingly gaining currency in India, actors here dress themselves.
How has the Indian film industry changed over the years when it comes to its sartorial sense?
It has changed immensely. Our generation was the first that was truly influenced by world media and international fashion trends. Travel and the Internet has made it easier for Indian actors to look, well, global.
Who are your biggest influences when you shop?
Not advertisements for sure. My wife and mother.
How much time do you spend at stores? Is it important for you to touch, feel, try?
I’m a fast shopper and if I like something I like it in all colours. I do scrutinize my purchases but I’m not one for trying them out at the store.
What’s your quickest purchase?
That would be a tie. They’re easy to select: All in one section and well displayed.
Tell us about your experience at the Academy Awards recently.
My wife and I were vacationing in California and the Academy graciously extended us an invite. The thing about these events is that you feel part of a larger community… I was sitting a few seats away from Spielberg! Apart from that, it didn’t feel much different from our award ceremonies. The show is as long. The carpet is the same colour.