Podcast: Harivansh Rai’s Lessons to an Angry Young Amitabh Bachchan

This is what angry young man Amitabh asked his father, Harivansh Rai Bachchan.

3 min read

(This podcast has been republished from The Quint’s archives to celebrate Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday. It was originally published on 10 October 2017.)

Ever wondered how Amitabh Bachchan could play the angry young man so effortlessly? From where did he bring such intensity?

The Quint has compiled a series of podcasts from Amitabh Bachchan’s blog about his life before he became the phenomena that he is. These are his stories from school, his reflections about life, which offer us a tiny peep into the parallel universe of Amitabh Bachchan.

The second part in the podcast series is about an important life lesson from his father, Harivansh Rai Bachchan.


Father’s Life Lesson

Angered, frustrated, strengthened and armed with unreasonable thought, I walked into my father’s study one evening and for the first time in my life, with choked emotion, raised my voice at him and screamed:

Why did you give birth to me?
Aapne hamme paida kyun kiya?

My father, immersed as he always was in his writing, looked up at me with some initial surprise and then settled down to a more understanding posture and remained so for almost eternity.

No one spoke. Not him. Not me. Not a sound.

Just the measured clicking of the time piece on his desk – and my unmeasured breathing!

When nothing came across from parent quarter, I turned and left.

It was an uncomfortable night for me.

The next morning my father walked into my room, woke me up and handed me a sheet of paper and left. I opened it. It was a poem he had written overnight – titled – ‘Nayi Leek’ – the new generation – the new beginning.

Harivansh Rai Bachchan wrote this poem for his son, Amitabh. 
Harivansh Rai Bachchan wrote this poem for his son, Amitabh. 
(Photo Courtesy: Tumblr)

Pulled and torn by the strains of life and living
My son ask me “Why did you give birth to us?
And I do not possess an answer to this
That even my father did not ask me before giving birth to me
Nor my father asked his father before producing him
Nor my grandfather did ask his father before bringing him
The trials and tribulations of life and living
Were there before and are there now too, perhaps more
And shall be there tomorrow, even greater
Why don’t you make a new beginning, a new thinking,
Ask your sons before giving birth to them!

There are no excuses in life and no blame. Every morning is a fresh challenge. Either you learn to pick up the gauntlet and fight or learn to surrender to it. So long as there is life, there is struggle!

‘Jab tak jeevan hai, tab tak sanghgursh hai’ said my father, as he lay weak and almost comatose in his bed in Prateeksha.
Amitabh Bachchan with his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan and mother Teji Bachchan.
Amitabh Bachchan with his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan and mother Teji Bachchan.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Amitabh Bachchan)

The room is now adorned by his large framed photograph, exactly where he breathed his last. On a stand below it are his entire works, beautifully leather bound and by its side the Ramayan he read every morning. I dress his portrait with a garland of fresh flowers every day and a diya burns perpetually underneath. Few months ago, he was joined on the side by my Mother’s portrait – a divine face, a face she wore the day she married him.

Every day and every moment that I pass the room as I climb the staircase to my bedroom or down from it, I stop by the door and look at both of them. And ask for strength. A light burns above them throughout the day. It is the light of his wisdom that I endeavor to carry each day when I step out!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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