Amitabh Bachchan thrills his Melbourne fans at IFFM event
In an atmosphere of heightened interest and tightened security, Indian cinema’s luminary actor Amitabh Bachchan was in Melbourne recently to open the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2014 (IFFM). Big B’s presence in Melbourne created a buzz in the community like never before.
Within seconds of his arrival at Melbourne airport the adoration for this living legend of Indian cinema was mapped on social network through innumerable selfies, tweets, digital camera photos and Facebook posts.
The IFFM Opening Night event and the screening of Sholay 3D sold out within 48 hours of going on sale. The media, including mainstream, were present in substantial force to report on the celebrity.
Taking all this adulation gracefully into his stride, the 72-year-old actor spent a couple of hectic days in Melbourne addressing press conferences, giving media interviews and attending events related to the Indian Film Festival. He also visited the La Trobe University in Bundoora to present a scholarship named after him.
“This is my first trip to Australia and I hope to have many opportunities to visit this beautiful country again,” said Mr. Bachchan at a press conference held at the Investment Centre in Collins Street prior to the opening of the Festival. At the conference Mr. Bachchan expressed his delight at receiving the honour of Opening the Indian Film Festival and receiving the International Screen Icon Award from the Australian Government.
Mr. Bachchan said that cinema has been a great binder that goes beyond colour, caste or religion.
“We enjoy the same product, laugh at the same jokes and sing the same songs,” Mr. Bachchan said. “We enjoy the same emotions”.
He added that in a world that is fast disintegrating, there are very few institutions left that brings such integration. “It is wonderful to see that Australian government has decided to use this medium in bringing the two communities together and building strong bonds of friendship”.
He echoed similar sentiments at his Opening Night address prior to the screening of his biggest hit Sholay redone in a 3D version.
“I hope that through this medium of culture, film and entertainment, we come closer and become even greater friends than we already are,” said Mr. Bachchan.
During the Opening Night event held at Hoyts Melbourne Central Mr. Bachchan connected with his fans and answered questions presented to him, on behalf of the audience, by Festival Director Mitu Bhowmick Lange. Amidst screams of rapture and declarations of undying love from his fans, he recited in that famously rich baritone, an extract from Madhushala, a popular poem penned by his father Harivanshrai Bachchan. He then took the time to recite and translate a dialogue from Agneepath, a hugely successful film of his,for the benefit of Minister Louise Asher and other non-Hindi speaking guests.
The excitement reached fever pitch, when on popular demand, he also recited famous dialogues from his blockbuster movie Kabhi Kabhi.
Throughout the event Mr. Bachchan maintained a remarkable air of composure. On his way out there was a frenzied but thwarted attempt from his fans to get closer to him. People who had travelled from all parts of Victoria just for this moment jostled with each other to get an unobstructed view. There was an onslaught of cameras and digital phones as everybody took pictures before Mr. Bachchan was whisked away amidst tight security. The audience obviously couldn’t get enough of their favourite star, but everyone went home with a story to tell.
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