We had no idea that Amitabh Bachchan’s religious routine includes visits to dargahs. This is news. How come we never heard about it before? Aww, of course you will say that Mr B is subtle, he does not show off, he is a private person, he is so dignified. Fine. But if his pictures can be taken at temples, then they can be clicked at dargahs too. It is permissible and every celebrity placing a sheet of flowers over a tomb has been photographed, including Shakti Kapoor.
There could be pictures of Mr. B but obviously he did not want them displayed. Wonder why. Incidentally, the Haji Ali Dargah is still being renovated, so it was really some effort on his part to make it there. I understand the sanctum work has only just begun. Never mind such minor details.
Places of worship enjoy such famous devotees and the PR agents make sure their high-profile employers are given the right media coverage. Pandits and maulvis get into the act and feel good cordoning off the place so that the privileged worshipper can pay his respects in a privileged manner. All good.
Now, Mr Private Amitabh Bachchan has revealed that he has been threatened by an anonymous person via text message for visiting a temple and a dargah because it is “incorrect” to do so.
One assumes the person believes he cannot do both and it is tantamount to demeaning one faith. The report mentions visits to two dargahs and two temples in the course of a day. Interestingly, neither the individual nor the recipient mentions any particular reason or the religious belief of the sender. It sounds a bit strange given that fanatics of any faith would make their intentions very clear.
Obfuscation, of course, has its merits, especially to depict bravado:
“I am going to do it again, and shall continue to do it. And I want to see how you are going to stop me. If you have the courage and guts, come and get me,’’ he wrote (in his blog). The man has also warned the actor that his latest film Aladin, which hit the theatres on Friday, will not be successful because of Bachchan’s act of visiting both the dargah and temple.
“If the film has merit, no force on earth will be able to stop its worth. If the film is weak and does not have merit, no force on earth shall be able to make it a success. At the cost of every film of mine failing, I am not going to change my routine,’’ wrote Bachchan.
Aha, so it is a publicity stunt for the film. I knew it, but I wanted to leave this for the last. As I asked earlier, how many times have we heard about this routine of Mr. B? Aladdin, as we know, is an old Arabian legend; in the movie the actor plays the role of the genie. It is amusing that his routine is perfectly timed with the film’s release and is prominently mentioned in the SMS as well as in his response to it. The dargah angle makes complete sense now. How can you have an Arabic setting with a Muslim name and no little stopover at a place of that faith?
Clubbed together with this gimmick is the patented Bachchan self-effacing diversion: The film will succeed on merit and fail if it has no merit. This is just to make sure that a) the believers should throng the theatres, b) if they don't like the film, remember he went to a Muslim shrine too, so spare the Hindu one…okay, I am kidding!
But, someone is really smart.
This angel/genie persona is evident in Bigg Boss 3.
He tries to repeat the Kaun Banega Crorepati stunts with sanskritised Hindi and you almost feel that he is in inquisition mode. This season's show is boring as hell, but when I do catch some action on the day the contestant is voted out and that final salaam, it becomes obvious that the programme has suffered hugely because of him. The participants are aware of his stature and he is aware of his stature.
When he attempts the psychologist act it just does not ring true. Last night he tried it with Sherlyn Chopra and it was worse than a Nirupa Roy cliched tearjerker where he called up her mother and there was a patch-up with the lady referring to him as an angel.
All so darned staged. Understood? Amitabh Bachchan acts as genie and the poor little girl’s wish is granted.
I wish his Bhootnath had released now. It would have been fun to see him disappear. Yeah, that word: Disappear…uhm, King Lear.
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Top image courtesy: Amitabh at Tirupati