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I’m not fond of epithet ‘Big B’: Amitabh Bachchan

Published Dec 2, 2013, 4:04 pm IST
Updated Mar 18, 2019, 9:31 pm IST
Ruling the film industry since ’70s Amitabh Bachchan talks about being there, doing it and more.

He is synonymous with Bollywood, yet hates the word ‘Bollywood’. He prefers to be called a part of Hindi film industry. With more than 180 films to his credit, numerous awards including the Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri in his four decades long career, and a super successful transition to television, actor Amitabh Bachchan has fans from 6 to 60 years old. The veteran superstar gave a talk on cinema, art and literature as a part of the seventh annual Penguin lecture, in Delhi.

Invoking everybody from Oscar Wilde to Grouche Marx, Bachchan started his lecture by highlighting that reading is an essential means for human development. He says, “I stand before you all not because of my authorship, but for bringing into life the characters penned by writers. In a country like India — that is all about big narratives, history, past, struggles and hope — they insist to associate me with a ‘big’ as well an epithet that I am not very fond of, Big B.” Clearly in a self-deprecating mood, he went down the memory lane to the last few days of his father and noted poet Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan, who would insist on watching Hindi films, especially of his son, before retiring for the day rather than read texts that he had written throughout his life. “Many would see this act as an unfettered affection for his son. I never asked him about it and now regret...”


Talking about the Indian cinema and its contributions to the society, Bachchan puts forth, “Indian cinema, now in its centenary year has managed to cut across caste, religion, gender and community in the Indian society. It absorbs all other performing arts and is constituted of people from different parts of the country. It might be termed ‘escapist’ from time to time, but has managed to unify the entire society. But in a nation that has low levels of literacy (as cited by the census 2011), cinema is a medium that is understood by the largest cross-section of people. It neither requires any special skill nor talent. It is a medium that entertains.”


Adding on to this he says, “Indian cinema entertains people in every which way, neither affected by recession nor by a nuclear bomb. How it is dismissed as trashy and inconsequential! Even our post Independent cinema played an important role in creating Nehru’s vision for free India. And to date it continues to play an important role uniting length and breadth of this country.”

The lecture ended with Bachchan’s reciting his father’s poem, "Kiske Khoon ke Dhabbe" that highlights at the plight of women and the pain they suffer.