Saturday, July 30, 2011

The importance of being earnest – and Amitabh Bachchan

M_Id_226034_Amitabh_Bachchan.jpg (300×200)
In his forthcoming film ‘Aarakshan‘, Amitabh Bachchan plays an idealist teacher who despises the caste system, but questions the pertinence of reservations, says The Times of India.
Speaking at St Xavier’s College, Kolkata, the actor said, according to the ToI report, “Since it has been endorsed by the Supreme Court and the Parliament and sanctioned by laws, Indians have no choice but to obey and accept it. But we need to assess whether it’s really helping uplift the backward classes or widening the rift between the privileged and the have-nots. Also, we must find out if commercialisation of education is the result of a mad race for seats triggered by reservation.”
With reservation being an issue that affects the lives of every Indian, and commercialisation of education, too, of significant concern to Indians, Bachchan’s drawing attention to the issues is no small matter.
Unless, of course, he is drawing attention not to reservation and the commercialisation of education, but to the film ‘Aarakshan’, which launches on 12 August.
A few years ago, when the award-winning ‘Paa’ was set to launch, Bachchan underlined that the film, which rested on a character with progeria, was not designed to draw attention to the ailment. “But the film is not about the disease,” Bachchan had then said clearing the air, “It’s about relationships. It just happens that the kid in the film suffers from progeria. We aren’t creating awareness for the disease,” said a report in The Times of India.
Well, that did clear the air. We know that Bachchan’s statements about progeria were only in the context of the film; that he did not consciously intend to draw attention to the disease.
He may not have intended to, but that’s what he achieved.
“Two brothers, Ikramul Khan and Ali Hussain who are suffering from progeria, a disease that accelerates ageing process, say their last wish is to meet Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and thank him for creating awareness about it,” reported NDTV.
Ali did, finally, get his wish. His brother didn’t, succumbing to progeria. Bachchan later wrote on his blog: “Master Ali, the only surviving member of this progeria ridden family came over from Kolkata, as I had promised. Such a joy to see the actual Auro, to be able to feel his emotion and his spirit and strength. He was cool and suave and most unconcerned about his condition, even though he had just lost his elder brother some months ago, also afflicted by the disease. The father told me a few other children of his had all passed away in similar fashion. His mother kept crying through out the meeting. What can one say at moments like this? It is so difficult to face the moment. You smile and give hope and the confidence that all will be well, when in fact we know that it will not.”
When Bachchan signed a contract as brand ambassador for the Narendra Modi ruled state of Gujarat, there was an instant outcry, provoking Bachchan to write on his blog. “You want to stop me from promoting tourism in a state because you have reason to believe that there are political connotations to the event. This is such rubbish! All I shall be doing will be working in a short film that shall highlight the various places of interest in the state, so that it encourages more tourists to visit the region,” Bachchan posted.


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