India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Tracking the Big B through thick and thin

October 13, 2008

A perfect Saturday afternoon beckoned me. An early lunch was had, the house was quiet and the prospect of dropping off into an uninterrupted sleep was enough to make me smile.

bachchan.jpgOne phone call changed all that. Amitabh Bachchan is on his way to the hospital, a source said and he is sick. The first thing that registered in my mind was “I hope he is ok” and then the journalistic instinct kicked in.

Frantic calls to his office, the hospital and his doctor followed. Details became clearer, the situation calmed down a bit and everyone heaved a collective sigh of relief. Many of us couldn’t help but go back in time to 2005 when Bachchan was recuperating in the same hospital. The focus on him then was immense.

There were hourly updates on news channels, reporters stationed outside the hospital 24×7 and thousands thronged to Lilavati Hospital, as if their presence might have made a difference. Prayer meetings were held and the entire film industry held its breath.

I’ve been told it was the same when Bachchan met with an accident on the sets of his film “Coolie” in 1982. I was three years old then and don’t remember the incident so I only have the 2005 illness to go by.

It hasn’t been as bad this time around but I do know of fellow reporters who have kept vigil outside Lilavati Hospital since Saturday. Television channels and newspapers have been full of news, filmographies, reactions from fan clubs and detailed discussions with doctors on intestinal diseases.

Over the weekend, we have been subjected to all kinds of details about the sickness — how Jaya Bachchan kept vigil by her husband’s bed all night, TV channels replaying the shot from “Coolie” where Bachchan got injured and discussions with astrologers on the actor‘s future.

It is understandable that being the icon that he is, any news of Bachchan will be followed by the media almost obsessively. This morning a casual discussion in office also turned to the same topic.

“I feel really bad for the guy. If I were sick, I wouldn’t want an army of cameras and photographers grappling to get my picture,” said a colleague.

Monday’s edition of the Mumbai Mirror voiced similar sentiments.

“The attention given to Bachchan by our media both in normal times and when he falls sick is disproportionate to his importance,” reader V M Swaraj said in a letter to the paper.

This is a difficult one to answer, I think. As media, we have to cover this news, it is important. But shouldn’t we also be drawing the line somewhere? And if so, where should that line be?

What do you think?

 

 

Comments

I hope you get well soon Big B.

Posted by Natasha | Report as abusive
 

Nice thought. Good thought comes amidst bad moments. You are right when you say, I hope, Amit is ok. Good thinking and good reporting. take care. best wishes to all.

rajesh

Posted by rajesh | Report as abusive
 

He is a good actor, but it is quite common to put movie actors on pedestal and constant hysteria follows. Really what are these guys any way? acting in movies now days is just so weird, they are selling something doesn’t exist. Colorful clothing, love stories and extra ordinary sets, all this fake stuff put together to make us feel something we cannot achieve or will do in our practical life. But still movie stars treated as gods. Humans are funny.

Posted by Neo | Report as abusive
 

One can’t compare Amitabh Bachchan kind of persona with any of res tof acotrs or even most charismatic leaders. I am not his obsessed fan but have reasons which I learnt from my personal obervation.

Its the emotion of public which defines the blood of democracy and I think Amitabh Bachchan is perhaps the only face in entire India after mahatma Gandhi who is so much loved and respected, which no person command. Not just that respect and hysterical love for him exists outside India like almost all the nations of middle east, afghansitan, Nigeria, Lebnon, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa,…I mean its just unbelievable. When Indians were caught in Iraq they were freed only after knowing that they are from the land of Bachchan! Sameway in Afghanistan it was only for Bachchan’s Khuda Gawah Taliban had declared ceasefire for 2 months so that Bachchan could shoot there!
Through his movie perhaps Amitabh bachchan has inspired many of lives and turned many successful Vijays in their lives, and this is why this man get much much more importance than anyone else in this nation…and its justified considering him the unofficial father figure of united India and beyond that!
This will be just foolish to compare him with any normal actor or politician. He is face of India infact.

Posted by Rohit Manjunath | Report as abusive
 

amitbh bachen you are a good acter but not superb,i love your acting in black.i will pray from my ALLAH that he will give you health again but don’t work in those movies in which your chracter is just like as your’s god not mine because no one is like my ALLAH.
Don’t worry about your healh.
i am the student of university of Engineering and technology,Lahore.PAKISTAN

Posted by Ch.Adeel Anjum | Report as abusive
 

Inspite of being a God of Acting, he is a good human being. So, he is very popular in whole world. Thats why media is always after him. But still I’d say that during his illness media should follow him from distance.

He is very strong person so I am sure that he would recover soon and come back with bang. Get Well Soon, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. My best wishes are with you.

Tejinder.

Posted by Tejinder | Report as abusive
 

Wish Amitji a speedy recovery and lesser hassle by media. It was very shameful that whie Amitji was being led to hospital the crowd, especially the cameramen, swamped him and this would have caused him discomfort but who cares, ”got to get the story na baba”. Unfortunately the focus of media has shifted from reporting to story telling. Is all about ‘missed that story’ or ‘cover that story’ or worse still ‘make that story’. Some of the channels played songs of his films while showing him getting in the hospital, the real sound bites would have shown the sheer lack of humanity and the madness that the media creates while getting just a glimpse. In fact I have seen starving people behave better when food is served. I think the media care a damn about paprazzi even after having being in someway involved in the death of dear Diana. Talk of journalistic instinct … where was the media when our man was going through a rough patch, now that he is a superstar again you want him for your TRPs, what about how he feels about you .. read his blog!!

Posted by Mehul Khatri | Report as abusive
 

i think the issue that you have thought upon is very relevant in the present day scenario when media people have to intrude in peoples life as a part of their profession,but they do realize the fact that such intervention may disturb the persons life.may be this is due to the cut throat competition among the news agencies.if something is worked upon to reduce the competition effect and if TRP’s are not given much importance then i think this situation may improve.

Posted by B.Lavanya | Report as abusive
 

I wish Mr B to get Well soon and Rock Bollywood as well as Holywood

-Krisna

Posted by krisna | Report as abusive
 

In my personal opinion, Amitabh is the greatest Bollywood actor. His persona, his lanky profile, his deep voice, the ups and downs in this career, his good bad and superb movies all make him a uniquely Indian icon! May he recover soon, be well and give us some more of his movies.
His is an inspiration to all. Amitabh, get well soon!

Posted by alwaysindian | Report as abusive
 

Get well soon Amitabhji, Best wishes

Posted by Dimple | Report as abusive
 

Get well soon Amitji and best wishes. I hope the media stops hounding celebrities, especially when they are not feeling well.

Posted by Dimple | Report as abusive
 

Amitabh Bachchan is an adorable actor and a jewel in the crown of our country. Personalities like him are very hard to find in modern times. His acting, his charisma is superfabulous.

Wish him good health and a quick recovery

Posted by RS | Report as abusive
 

He is good human being
a role model
inspiring human spirit
symbol of grit
the man of millennium

 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •