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Bollywood star thanks gods for success

Leading man Bachchan explains why Indian cinema won't be subsumed by Hollywood

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan smiles as his son Abhishek Bachchan looks on as they arrive at the venue of Fashion Extravaganza during the Internati...

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan smiles as his son Abhishek Bachchan looks on as they arrive at the venue of Fashion Extravaganza during the Internati...

Indian cinema's most famous leading man, Amitabh Bachchan, is still mobbed by screaming fans wherever he goes at the age of 65 - a graphic illustration of the enduring and deep appeal of Bollywood.
But in an award-winning acting career spanning four decades, the godfather of Indian film believes the adulation has little to do with his talent - it is in the hands of the gods.
"It's somewhat unique. There are centers in my country that build temples in honor of their favorite stars and actually pay obeisance to them, which is not understandable by people in the West," he told AFP ahead of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Bangkok.
Bachchan believes the extraordinary level of hero-worship comes from Indian culture - a heritage of mythological tales on which many Bollywood scripts are based.
"So I'm just thinking that maybe if there is a deed done by the leading man in a film, which in some manner is related to a deed done by a somewhat godly figure in this religious book, then for some peculiar reason they feel that this actor too is an incarnation of that god," Bachchan reasoned.
Bachchan believes the same culture that deifies him and ensures he is never without his security staff, is also protecting Bollywood from being subsumed by the Hollywood movie machine.
"The way Hollywood was able to destroy most of the other cinemas in the West - whether it was Italian, French or German, or British even - it will have a tougher time in India because there is a cultural difference."
Hollywood dramas do not tap into the Indian devotion to family, religion and festivals, and have not fared well on Indian screens, Bachchan said. He believes larger-than-life blockbusters such as the "Spider-Man" franchise have done well because they never compromise the country's culture.
Bachchan is the ambassador for the IIFA awards and with his son, Abhishek and daughter-in-law, former Miss World Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, he stars in the film premiered during the awards weekend of events - "Sarkar Raj."
The film is a sequel to the 2005 film "Sarkar," considered a homage to the American classic "The Godfather." It is loosely based on the controversy around an Enron power plant built in India a decade ago.
All the films showcased during the IIFA weekend tackle newer genres - from action to sci-fi - but Bachchan believes the song and dance formula still has its place as pure escapist entertainment.
"(The West) felt it was too escapist, it was too unnatural, too fantasized," he told AFP. "But we never stepped away from that and fortunately for us the West now enjoys our films because of the very elements they were so critical of."
Tales with a moral message and a simple plot have always played well in Indian cinema, Bachchan said, because the average movie-goer does not want to watch his own reality.
"If there is a common man that works on the streets for a pittance, for him to spend that money to come inside a theater and watch a recreation of his own life would just be not worth it," Bachchan said.
"He comes in there to get away from the misery."
"It would be unfair for us to construct something according to your tastes and temperaments in the West which is more realistic. But we have never shied away from the fact that this is escapist cinema."
As for Hollywood knocking at Bollywood's door, it is happening, he said, as India grows into an economic powerhouse.
"I always find that whenever a nation does well economically everything about it starts getting noticed," Bachchan said.


Updated : 2020-12-02 05:52 GMT+08:00