Some Unusual Fans of The Unusual Amitabh Bachchan
Ali Peter John
In all my forty – nine years in this good ,bad ,sad and mad industry (I cannot believe that I will be completing fifty years in January 2020)I have understood many things and I have even misunderstood many other things , but if there is one thing I have never understood is how one individual becomes a fan of another man or a woman and forgets that the star , superstar or legend is another human being like him or her .I have never understood how people can take such a mad liking or even love for someone who they have never known , hardly met or talked to and have only seen them on the large screen or the small screen or on the different channels and the covers and the inside pages of glossies and other magazines and yet place them on platforms , pedestals and altars where gods and goddesses and saints are placed .I have not understood why lacs of such fans used to throng “Aashirwad “when Rajesh Khanna was the superstar and how the same throngs fled the scene as soon as he fell from his place and grace and was side lined for another superstar like Amitabh Bachchan who he (Rajesh Khanna ) firmly believed was no competition for him and could not even dream of standing in the shadow of his superstardom ……
But , that is life in this industry , take it or leave it , love it or hate it .It is now more than forty years since Amitabh Bachchan has taken over as the superstar and the star of the millennium , but his shine is not only untouched or unchallenged , but has only grown with time , even though all the younger Khans and Kumars and Devgns have tried their best and even their worst to reach anywhere near him . Every Saturday and Sunday evenings, I have been seeing thousands of men , women and children gather outside “Jalsa” like people at a place of worship or pilgrimage only to have those two minutes of his” darshan “and this kind of a scene is a regular happening with one generation handing down to tradition to another generation and everything and everyone changes , but the object of the worship of these millions has not changed and the way things are ,it seems that there will never be another object or deity of veneration or worship ……
What is that something special that marks out this man from all the millions? What is that pure magic and magnetism that attracts and draws the millions to him? What is that great love for him that makes people go out of all human ways to show their affection and unlimited love for him which he had often said , he will never be able to pay back ? Why did people even put their lives at risk and at stake when he was lying on that bed at the Breach Candy Hospital , fighting a grim battle against all the forces of death ?
I too was a part of the sad crowd waiting to get the latest bulletin about his health. I too wept when there were rumours about his death , not once or twice , but several times during the two months he was in hospital and the whole country was praying for his life in temples and mosques and churches and any and every place where devotees believed their prayers his life would be heard ?
He came back alive, he was a shadow of his original sell , but he still had confidence and the faith of the millions who had prayed for him and even in that gloomy atmosphere , he had some inner courage to say that he would try , he would really try to live up to the expectations of the people who showered him with all their love and affection. And what a way he has after he made that effort to let his fans know that he would never let them down ….
To a very large extent, I believe in what my friend from Dubai, Zain Hussain who is a die-hard fan of Amitabh says. Zain believes that there is a little or more of Amitabh Bachchan in every Indian and even in those who know even a little about him and his work…..
On the occasion of the seventy- seventh birthday of Amitabh, I pay my tribute to some of his unusual fans who I have given the opportunity and the freedom to remember the Amitabh Bachchan they know and in their words….
ISHAN JHUNJHUNWALA–My parents were after me to get married. I was working in Indonesia and I had told them that there was no question of my getting married till I had at least had a glimpse of my only favourite hero, Amitabh Bachchan. They had seen several girls for me, but I stuck to my decision about seeing Amitabh in flesh and blood in Mumbai. I was now thirty years old and my parents and my entire family was growing desperate.
My brother was struggling to become an actor in Mumbai and he told me that he knew a senior journalist called Ali Peter John who was close to Amitabh. My brother talked to Mr Ali and he fixed up an appointment for me. Believe me, I gave up everything and took the first flight to Mumbai and Mr Ali took me and my brother to ‘Prateeksha’, Amitabh’s bungalow and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Amitabh Bachchan face to face. He put his arms around me and started talking to me as if we were long lost friends. I couldn’t believe what was happening. My brother took hundreds of photographs in the few minutes that were in Amitabh’s bungalow. I was moved to tears when Amitabh himself came to see me off at the gate.
I took the next morning’s flight to Jaipur and told my parents that they could select any girl and arrange my marriage as soon as possible. An entire hotel in Jaipur was booked for the wedding reception. Every room was named after a popular film of Amitabh Bachchan. A new menu card was prepared with all the dishes named after the characters played by Amitabh. The bar was named the ‘Sharaabi’ bar and only the songs and music of Amitabh’s films were played by the band of the restaurant. Every guest was presented with an album of the photographs my brother had taken of me with Amitabh. I can never forget that evening at ‘Prateeksha’ all my life. Luckily, I have only one son and we have named him Amitabh.
ANIL JADHAV–I was a fan of Amitabh Bachchan ever since I was in school. I had made up my mind that I would leave Belgaum and go to Bombay only to see Amitabh Bachchan once. After a few days in Bombay, I met Mr R.D Rai who was a senior photographer working for ‘Screen’ and I told him about my ambition. He took me to a man who he said was his boss and could do anything in the industry. His name was Ali Sahab. I just told him about my desire to meet Amitabhji. He took me and Rai to the Ajanta Hotel in Juhu where Amitabhji sat as the head of ABCL. He told Amitabh about my desire to see him and Amitabhji who was dressed in a suit came out of his cabin and shook my hand and I could feel my whole-body tremble with joy. He asked me what I was doing for a living and I said I had only wanted to see him. He told me, “mere dost, isse bhi aur zaroori kaam hote hai. Shaadi ki hai ki nahi tumne? Shaadi karo toh zindagi sudhar jayegi”. He let me sit with him on a sofa with his hands still around me and asked to take as many photographs as he wanted. I was in the seventh heaven. I went back to Belgaum and told the whole city about my meeting with my God. I then got married. I have two grown up sons, one is named Amit and the other is called Sumit. It is more than twenty years now, but I remember every moment of that meeting and my only dream now is to meet my God again with my family on his birthday. I hope the God above listens to my prayers and I and my family have a darshan of my God on earth.
MR AHMED QURESHI from Saudi Arabia—I had a love marriage and all was well till the night of our wedding. As soon as the lights went off in our hotel room, my wife Fatima refused to talk to me and she didn’t talk till the next three days. I and everyone in the family tried to ask her what was wrong with her. She finally wrote a note and gave it to me. She had written that she would not talk it all to anyone till she had met and talked to Amitabh Bachchan. I was in a serious fix and didn’t know what to do till I thought about my friend, Robert D’Souza who had told me that he had a friend in Bombay who knew Amitabh Bachchan. I begged of Robert to do something about my unexpected problem. He called his friend in Bombay and told him about my problem. His friend asked me to fly down to Bombay as soon as possible. I reached Bombay and Fatima as still not talking to me. Robert’s friend said he had fixed up an appointment with Amitabh for us the same evening. We walked in and Amitabh came down the stairs and called out Fatima’s name and I saw her face brighten up for the first time in many days. Amitabh kept talking to her for the next fifteen minutes and when we came out, there was a miracle. Fatima started talking, laughing and singing till after we celebrated the miracle in a five-star hotel. It is more than eighteen years now and Fatima has not stopped talking about Amitabh Bachchan and now our sixteen year old daughter, Mariyam has also become an All Amitabh Bachchan Radio which only talks about Amitabh and only plays his songs.
MR MUTHU SWAMY says that his eight-year-old son was dying of a rare disease and doctors couldn’t do anything to save him. His sick son told him that he would be healed even if he saw Amitabh Bachchan from a distance. The father did everything to fulfil his only son’s wish and the boy was completely healed and is a chemical engineer today.
Ms CHARU KANANI played at the Mahim Church for nine consecutive Wednesdays which was her way is praying for Amitabh when he was critically ill at the Breach Candy Hospital and on the tenth Wednesday Amitabh was out of hospital and Charu Kanani remembers that the date on which Amitabh came back home was September 24,1982. I got Charu a personally autographed photograph of Amitabh on her daughter Ashwina’s wedding and she has still kept that better in her personal jewellery box.
And Professor Swaminathan balanced a coconut on his head and walked from Ahmadabad to the Breach Candy Hospital only to get the good news that Amitabh was safe and on the way to complete recovery. And Mrs George from Andhra Pradesh walked on her head round the rim of a well which were considered to be sacred as her prayers for her hero to be saved from the well of death. And I have no hesitation in confession that I had taken a vow to kill myself of drinking if Amitabh was not brought back to life by God and the gods and goddesses at the Breach Candy Hospital. And thank the God above or wherever he is and all the gods at the hospital in Bangalore and then the doctors fighting their best battles to save the life of the man who brought new life and a bright new light into the millions of people of generations then, now and who will for a very long time to come. And if this birthday of the man is not the best time to pray for him, I don’t know which other time is..
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