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'Slumdog Millionaire' is wonderful, I'm happy for Rahman: Bachchan

Indo-Asian News Service
Jaipur, Jan 23 (IANS) Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, who had stoked a controversy by slamming "Slumdog Millionaire", Friday said the movie was "wonderful" and expressed happiness that composer A.R. Rahman won three Oscar nominations for his score and songs in the movie.

"The sound engineer of this wonderful movie 'Slumdog Millionaire', Rasool, an Indian, has also won a nomination along with Rahman. I am so happy. Bhanu Athaiya was the last Indian to win an Oscar for the designing the costumes of Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi' in 1982," Bachchan said at an overflowing venue at the Jaipur Literature Festival. 

Referring to his comment regarding "Slumdog Millionaire" that "the film projects India as Third World's dirty underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots", he said: "I write a blog. But the opinions expressed in my blog were not my own. So many people write on my blog site and I was just quoting one of them. I have spoken to Anil Kapoor and Danny Boyle and cleared the misgivings. But everyone must have freedom of expression." 

The superstar was here for a day to release his biography, "Bachchanalia: The Films and Memorabilia of Amitabh Bachchan", spanning 40 years of his career in the Hindi film industry. 

The book - co-authored by Mumbai-based author Bhawana Somaaya and the Mumbai-based auction house and archive OSIAN's Centre for Archiving, Research and Development (CARD) wing - is the maiden publication of Osian's publishing and design department. 

Founder and chairman of OSIAN's Neville Tuli was in conversation with the superstar. 

Bachchan, clad in a pink shirt and a black velvet blazer, cut an amenable figure as he fielded queries from his host and the audience alike. 

"Indian cinema is gaining global acceptance. I was in Paris two weeks ago for Salon Du Cinema, a festival of world films, where India and my family were the focus this time. 

"I realised that the Indian movie industry was being acknowledged and Hindi movies were being shown on television channels in countries like France, Germany and all over Europe - even in those European nations where there had been no awareness about Indian movies before. 

"If you want a personal and an honest opinion, I think Indian movies are paramount. They don't fall short in any way globally - be it in terms of cinematography, content or the cast. I am very happy with the kind of movies we are making. The Oscar is in its place - the fact that they have decided to nominate one of our artistes is heartening," Bachchan said. 

The superstar held forth on a variety of subjects - ranging from his relationship with his son, reading habits, concern for junior artistes in Mumbai, secular fabric of the country and his own life. 

Striking a patriotic note, the Bollywood veteran said he was proud to be a movie star.

"I'm proud to be in the profession because once people walk into a movie theatre they forget the identity of those with whom they are sharing the hall. You do not ask if the person seated next to you is a Hindu, Sikh, Christian or a Muslim. 

"We watch the same emotions, cry over the same grief and sing the same songs. I think the integrated India lies inside the movie halls of this country," Bachchan said. 

The superstar was emphatic that his angry young man image, which had a created a new metaphor in Indian cinema after his hit action movie, "Zanjeer", was not setting a violent precedent among the youth. 

"For every angry young man, I have played a benign Anthony bhai ("Amar Akbar Anthony"). The maximum violence as I read in the papers happens in Bihar," he said. 

"The history of this country is more than 1,000 years old - I don't want to look down upon the younger generation. You have to give space to each generation to progress," he said. 

As a model citizen of India, Bachchan said his dream was to ensure that every Indian should know, understand and follow the Constitution and work together for an integrated country - especially in these troubled times of terror. 
Indo-Asian News Service 


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