Bachchan Reacts to Controversial Open Letter to Granddaughters
Amitabh Bachchan’s open letter to his granddaughters went viral recently. In the letter, he spoke about how they should embrace their womanhood and make their life decisions themselves. The letter also drew flak for its - ironically - rather patriarchal stance and its indirect plug for Big B’s upcoming film Pink.
In an exclusive interview, Bachchan reacts to the criticism.
On Teacher’s Day you wrote a heart-warming letter to your two granddaughters. What prompted you?
Amitabh Bachchan: What has been expressed in that letter has been within me from a long time. I have had such thoughts and beliefs always and have followed them in my environ and in my family. Working on Pink put me in direct touch with those emotions.
Your critics think the letter is publicity for your new film Pink?
AB: I have not spoken a single dialogue in Pink that does not have my belief in it. If I were not to be working in the film, I would still have had no hesitation in publicly saying what I have said in the film. So, yes it was an emotional experience and moved by such, I felt like putting those words out! The lucid message of the letter extends not just to your family but to girl children everywhere.
How do you see the movement in India to empower the girl child? Has there been any success?
AB: In many ways, the essence of the letter is what purports to be the essence of the concept of Pink. The film is not a document on women empowerment, nor is it a film on rape. It is a social thriller, entertaining, much like any other film of this genre. Circumstances in the story lead the characters in the film to a situation in the courts of law, and that is where the issues pertaining to legal arguments both in defense and prosecution of the case, bring about the matter that plagues our society, on our views and thoughts and practices pertaining to women. Much of what has been seen and impressed all in the trailer has been a part of the moment during court and legal arguments, researched minutely through informed sources – lawyers, justices, case studies and the courts in different parts of the country.
Do you think Pink has the power to initiate a movement against sex crimes?
AB: The film is not an effort to initiate a movement. But if it can initiate a debate, a discussion, I think the purpose of the film would we well served. Society and morals have undergone changes with time, as have the laws of the land. We are not out to change laws or even suggest that we can. We have just constructed a fictional story and through the circumstances that prevail, put out a few points that could perhaps be viewed as relevant. That is it!
Do you see Navya Naveli and Aaradhya pursuing an acting career, if they so wish?
AB: The choices they make shall have our advice and guidance, but the final decision shall be theirs and theirs alone.
Pink is also about the patriarchal prejudices and how women have to constantly dodge the bigotry. Do you see the film as a harbinger of social reform like say V Shantaram’s Do Aankhen Barah Haath or even Rakeysh Mehra’s Rang De Basanti was?
AB: As I said earlier, we are not there in Pink to bring reform, social or moral, but if some see the purpose within it and wish to make a statement or belief or a following, that is something that we shall observe after the film has released, surely!
Your Siddhivinayak rendition is a heart-warmer. Amitji, what brought on this wonderful endeavour?
AB: The Siddhivinayak temple trustees came to me and requested me to sing the aarti and I did it. I am no singer and not trained as such, but the cause was noble and I went ahead.
How was the experience of singing your first devotional?
AB: This is not the first devotional I have sung. Many years ago I did the Hanuman Chalisa, with Aadesh Srivastava and 20 other singers from the Industry.
The song was released a day after one of your favourite music composers Aadesh Shrivastava’s birthday, who composed some of your most beloved songs?
AB: We lost a great music mind in Aadesh Srivastava, and I have lost a dear friend. But his presence is felt every time I record at his studio, and we miss him.
You’ve always maintained that you’re not a good singer. Yet we’ve had songs - from Mere paas aao in Mr Natwarlal to the Siddhivinayak bhakti geet. How do you view your singing career?
AB: Singing is not a career option for me, primarily because it is not my domain, nor am I accomplished enough to make it one. Yes various stages of my film career have been witness to that odd ditty, but nothing more. I wish I could train for this vocation. But there is not enough time left for me to be able to do that with some sense of accomplishment.
Which are your own favourite songs from your repertoire?
AB: Haha... ‘repertoire’ sounds so professional! No... I have no repertoire and no favourites. Non-singers dare not have one. They are all so non-musical and riddled with endless faults .