I have never really been an over-the-top fan of Mr. Bachchan although I have always admired him for the person he is. There is a yawning difference, I believe. To be a fan would be to appreciate his acting skills, which, I believe, are just fine by-the-way. But not as great as Aamir Khan, maybe, or Johnny Depp, or Woody Allen, or Irrfan Khan – people who are complete naturals in front of the camera, people with whom acting just flows. So side-stepping on the acting front and coming to what is most important, I am suddenly completely enamoured by the suave gentleman’s humane qualities, his immense capability for hard-work, his thoughts and his life-style.
When he lashed out at Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, the entire world criticized him. People called him annoying, arrogant, even sour! Like somebody of the likes of Mr. Bachchan would ever be sour at somebody else’s success. Here’s what he had to say:
"if SM projects India as [a] third-world, dirty, underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations."
I think his views on the over-hyped movie were spot on! All Boyle did was pick up every little defect that India has – from slums, prostitution, traffic congestions, poverty to begging, corruption, misappropriation, robbing tourists and kidnapping – put it through the grinder and serve it to the world on a platter. There have been umpteen movies that have worked on these issues before but at least they have worked on one issue at a time! The underflowing current throughout the movie suggested that that is all India is – a nest of dirt and grime where people behave like animals and thrive on bribes. And really, would the movie have created such a furor had it been directed by an Indian director? Did a movie like Rang De Basanti not deserve a chance when it is one of the best-edited movies of the recent past, with a near-perfect storyline, great acting and music, and the perfect amounts of fun, romance and action? Or maybe a movie like Taare Zameen Par that had an underlying message loud and screaming?
Coming back to Mr. Bachchan, the reason I am writing about him today is because he portrayed another example of his love and loyalty to the country by declining to accept an honorary doctorate from an AustralianUniversity following an attack on an Indian student in Australia. His reply was a polite but firm, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’. He claims that his conscience does not allow him to accept a decoration from a country that perpetrates such indignity on our fellow countrymen.
One would think that reaching the pinnacle of success is, in itself, a job and a half, but staying put is what is harder, is what separates success from reigning success, mediocrity from greatness. And that is what this great man has constantly proved over time, and keeps doing still.