Who would have thought it, Amitbah Bachchan talking directly to his fans, all through the power of technology! Well, now it’s more than just a dream as the Bollywood legend arrived in London earlier this week to promote his new vocal blogging service, Bachchan Bol. Far from it being a concept that is yet to see success, Bachchan Bol already has 2.6 million subscribers in India. It’s clearly more than just an idea that India’s most famous man is playing with, he’s realised its potential and is now ready to launch the service in the UK too, simply so he can connect to even more fans.
So why has he made the decision to take time out of his hectic schedule to keep his fans as updated as possible? He told Ex-Big Brother presenter, George Lamb that ever since the day he received prayers, gifts and support from around the world when he fell into a coma on the Coolie film set years ago, he has regarded his fans as his extended family. Bachchan Bol is essentially the Bollywood actor’s way of saying thank you to his fans and giving something back after years of love and support. George Lamb’s fantastic interviewing skills made sure it wasn’t just the “vogging” service Bachchan spoke about. The progress of Indian cinema, his famous family and revealing how he keeps himself looking youthful are all topics that were touched upon during the intriguing Question and Answer session.
George Lamb: Bachchan Bol has coined its own new terminology, “vogging”. Perhaps you could tell us more about this?
Amitabh Bachchan: It started from the word “blog” as the plural of that is “blogging” so when they came about the concept of vogs, a vocal blogging service whereby I talk to my fans, I thought “vogging” would be most appropriate. When the concept came up, I immediately connected with it. It’s that feeling of immediacy with whoever you’re talking to, it almost feels as if you’re with them.
George Lamb: As a public figure and an actor, there’s so many people listening to you, you have a huge social responsibility, is that one of the reasons for Bachchan Bol?
Amitabh Bachchan: This is in no way an effort to deprive the press of their importance. However, there are times when it’s about 2am and I want to randomly say something but there is no media around for me to do so! So what do I do now? I vog!
George Lamb: Forty something years ago you ventured into the movie business, we’re now sitting here and you’ve got roughly 200 films under your belt. Did you ever think when you first started that you would achieve so much?
Amitabh Bachchan: No, never.
George Lamb: In the seventies you embraced the “angry young man”. Do you think the movie, Zanjeer, which presented this character, was a catalyst for change in the industry?
Amitabh Bachchan: This film [Zanjeer] came along with a very strong concept of the angry young man. It’s a terminology that has been coined by the media. I asked the writer many years ago why it was that they constructed a story with this man and they confessed that they were affected by what was going on in the country at the time. There was a lot of discomfort and unrest to find a way of changing things, perhaps in their own way and that is why when the character Zanjeer came together, it was in effect an impersonation of what they themselves wanted to happen. That’s why perhaps it became so successful.
George Lamb: The Indian film industry is so huge now, where do you see it’s future?
Amitabh Bachchan: I think for a very long time Indian cinema was looked upon rather cynically. We were somewhat different from the Western industry, we were more fantasised in our storytelling but I think the West did not understand why these kinds of films were being made. They were purely made for entertainment and so he or she felt entertained and lost in that world and that’s why our cinema became so popular. Indian cinema still is the most popular in the world. Fortunately now the West is warming up to it and accepting it and how wonderful it is to be sitting here in London today.
George Lamb: How do you manage forty years from starting in the business to still being so youthful, to still have such a fresh outlook, to embrace the media, to still be working at the pace you are, how do you manage all of it?
Amitabh Bachchan: It’s a two hour gym workout every morning! Seriously, I must be doing something which is right and I thank my parents genetically.
George Lamb: You are starting your fifth series of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, can you tell us more about that?
Amitabh Bachchan: It’s been one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had. It’s away from a scripted, technically worked format like the cinema. It allows me to be myself and allows me to sit across a computer with a contestant and know about their life and what their circumstances are. It’s just a brilliant experience.
George Lamb: Your son is also an actor and my father is an actor here. It’s been lovely for me to work with him over the last few years. Do you enjoy working with your son?
Amitabh Bachchan: Yes, it’s a great feeling. We always exchange thoughts and ideas, it’s wonderful. We actually have four actors in the house, my wife, my daughter-in-law and my son.
George Lamb: Four actors, one house, nightmare!
Amitabh Bachchan: We pick up our make-up box every morning!
George Lamb: On the set of Coolie you were injured badly, as far as I understand the whole nation came to a standstill, that must have been quite a comforting feeling.
Amitabh Bachchan: Most of the time I was in a coma so I didn’t know what was going on! When I survived, I didn’t realise the degree of affection that they had for me and it was just incredible.
By Kiran Kaur