Periodically, we’ve heard about Bollywood actors starting blogs, usually in conjunction with the promotion of their latest film. I seem to remember Aamir Khan briefly blogging around the time of the release of the Mangal Pandey movie (he’s at it again). Bipasha Basu, too, briefly blogged, to promote Apaharan.
But now it seems like blogging superstar phenomenon is taking off, as Amitabh Bachchan has been blogging with relish for more than a month (via the BBC). There does seem to be some promotional element here, as the image you see when you enter the blog, of Big B, is from Ram Gopal Varma’s upcoming sequel to Sarkar, Sarkar Raj (I reviewed the original Sarkar here). But Amitabh Bachchan isn’t just doing it as a stunt; he seems to really relish the act of communicating directly with his fans, even if it sometimes leads to controversy.
In an early post, Amitabh Bachchan apparently referred to Shah Rukh Khan’s new TV game-show, Kya Aap Paachvi Pass Se Tez Hain? (“Are you smarter/faster than a fifth grader?”), as a “flop.” The comment caused a major uproar, leading to the following rather overwrought apology:
A gentle breeze brings with it the smell of lavender from a nearby bush. A church bell from the village below signals the hour, the sound almost not reaching you.
And then, quietude -
a French word, from the medieval Latin quietudo, or the Latin quietus, â€˜quietâ€™..
Language is so fascinating. Who invented it ? How did it evolve into this mass communication medium ? Why were there and are so many different tongues ? Does the region bring that about ? Does the climate have a part ? The color of our skin our beliefs our demeanor does that have anything to do with it ? Is it because of what we eat or the way we dress ? What ?
[Skipping more stuff in this vein.]
But today I wish to address an issue that has been played out for months and one that perturbs me no end. It is the matter of my relationship with Shah Rukh.
Despite numerous clarifications and denials from both Shah Rukh and myself through the electronic and the print medium there seems to be no letting up. It is hurtful and unwanted and I wish to bring with all sincerity a final end to this much imagined ugliness.
So I shall start with myself first.
If there has been, for any reason whatsoever, a lapse or error on my part I wish to apologize for it right here and now. If any expression or opinion of mine, deemed or otherwise towards Shah Rukh has been the cause for any grievance then I am sorry for it. I have never deliberately or with any false intent ever meant or said anything towards him, or indeed any colleague or member of my fraternity in my 40 years as a professional. It is not my nature and does not fall within the confines of my upbringing. I am filled with remorse if some have felt otherwise. I would wish that this plea of mine coming directly from me be given its due merit of forgiveness.
Shah Rukh has been and is a friend and a wonderful colleague. He has never ever crossed that very delicate line between familiarity and respect. On occasion I may have desired a little more of the former, but the difference in our age has perhaps been a barrier. He has never failed to reciprocate affection that has come from me and hopefully neither have I. (link)
What I like about Amitabh Bachchan’s way of writing is the personal touch — the sense that it really is him writing these words, not some publicist. And if he seems to be overdoing it a bit with the business about “quietude,” one is inclined to forgive him both because Hindi has been his primary medium of expression (which is not to say that he’s not fluent in English; he obviously is), and also because his father was a famous Hindi poet. If he goes on a bit too long (and despite the long quote, I should note that I’ve snipped the Big B. pretty aggressively), that’s only to be expected. The point is, I hope Amitabh-ji continues to blog, if not everyday, then at least periodically, as I have a feeling he has a lot he wants to say to his fans.
That said, it’s intriguing to see such a big controversy erupt out of a comment he’d published on (and perhaps erased from?) his blog. Words have consequences; unconsidered words published, even only on the internet, are liable to come back to haunt you.
As for the show itself (“Paachvi Pass”), that originated the controversy. I don’t know anything about the rating for Indian TV shows — it may well be a flop. I did happen to watch fifteen minutes of this new show of Shah Rukh Khan’s on Star the other night, and I actually liked it, much more than the tacky American show from which it is derived. The key ingredient seemed to be Shah Rukh Khan himself, who always seems to find a way to be incredibly charming in these settings, and self-deprecatingly funny.
Perhaps tomorrow, we’ll talk about Aamir Khan’s current blog, and see if it rises to the same standard as Amitabh Bachchan’s efforts. Somehow I doubt it.