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Amitabh Bachchan turns storyteller; discusses cinema, women empowerment

Published Dec 1, 2013, 3:54 am IST
Updated Mar 18, 2019, 9:16 pm IST
Amitabh Bachchan wove his cinematic magic at the Penguin annual lecture in New Delhi

New Delhi, Nov 30: Megastar Amitabh Bachchan wove his cinematic magic at the Penguin annual lecture here, where he spoke about women's empowerment, Hindi cinema, his father and much more to an awestruck audience in a floodlight sports stadium.

Arriving with a couple of fat books with bookmarks peeking through it, the 71-year-old actor, dressed in a deep blue suit, took to the stage with a 'namaste'.


"Never trust anyone without a book in his hand," said the veteran actor before plunging into his talk a "novel departure" to "bring some others script to life" and "entertain thoughts than merely amuse."

He dipped into memories of his father and "literary giant" the legendary poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, whose birth anniversary was just two days ago.

Bachchan said his father had called him his greatest poetry, but "my biggest problem in my life I do not know whether I am a free verse or a couplet, a chaupai or a shloka."

The veteran actor said he remains puzzled by his father's habit in his last days of watching Hindi films rather than turning to his greatest companion his beloved books.


"I don't know what he saw in the flickering darkness it had to be more than Hindi cinema's excessive poetic justice in three hours!"

"Did he see a flame that burns itself up lighting up the fire of the written word within...?

He called Indian cinema older than Hollywood, now in its centenary year as monster. "We are our own monster an animal of many animal parts..." 

Replying to audience questions, the actor even expressed his wish to play the character "my father played in his autobiography."

In his speech, Bachchan, an ambassador of the United Nations, often quoted statistics to emphasise the lesser literacy rates among woman in parts of India like his native Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, about female infanticide, bride burning about misogyny, dowry deaths, rape cases, prostitution, acid attacks and other issues affecting women.


Bachchan said he would try and "build a girls' school again."

He said, "True equality can only exist if the whole society embraces it."

Bachchan referred to feature films as the "great passion of India" cutting across all other performing arts and the Indian film industry as absorbing all religions, languages and cultures in it.

"The filmy ambrosia's nectar so intoxicating that it has achieved what that no Indian politician has ever done," said Bachchan before posing the question "In our cinema bad guys always come to no good what about in India itself?


"Indian cinema has no nuclear bomb never suffers a recession" but, said the actor "people call it it is degenerate, trebling, trashy, flashy hocus-focus," said the actor.

Bachchan went on to deliver the "Because the whole country is a juxtaposition of .." dialogue from his film "Amar Akbar Anthony" to a round of applause.

In a sit down talk with Rajdeep Sardesai, Bachchan said previously cinema was looked upon as "something infra dig below the dignity of any society."

"It has become a culture. I would never imagine 50 years ago that a publishing house would invite a film actor to speak.... We should have many more people in the arts coming so that they come to know they are not isolated and their thinking is for the betterment of humanity and the betterment of society."