Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Each morning we drive miles and kilometers to various destinations

Balaram Palace , Gujarat                    Jan  30 ,  2012                                         Mon  10 : 45 PM     

Mounted police to control the crowds … !! After returning from Sidhpur, the only place where the ‘shraadh’ ceremony is done for women .. so sublime and gentle and full of sanctity ..
In pensive mood at the area filled with temples and where the ‘shraadh’ is performed ..
The ‘toran’ at VadNagar, the birth place of the Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi .. stunning and just strangely standing there as a symbol of what ? I do not have any idea .. majestic .. !!
At the prayer for Mother’s soul and its peace …

Each morning we drive miles and kilometers to various destinations, all of which have some significance in the history of the region. Each morning the crowds diligently stand by the side of roads and cheer. The smile on the faces of those that wave and scream and cheer, is poignant and sad for me. Their smile is so open and warm and honest. It is pure and simple. It is all that they have. But it is the best that they do.
Those that line the roads are from different walks of life. In the city there is the youth and the jeans and jackets and hoodies. Through the villages, there is first a sense of amazement,  and then it erupts ; their faces light up, they raise their hands in recognition and cheer, but what is most is the nature of their smile – open and warm and genuine, free from all other thought. The poor of this nation are a reflection of what truly this land stands for, believes in. Despite all the poverty and the paucity of food and house and clothing, they still remain happy and full of belief. A belief that all will change someday, that better days shall follow. They just need to pray more intensely and sincerely. The poor live through hope and fresh air, nothing more … and yes prayer ! Prayer to the God’s for mercy, for forgiveness and for the resurrection of their fate.
No matter how much we may want to do for them individually, or through collective effort it shall still never be enough. Never enough to bring them to an equal level. And if not equal then to a semblance of equality for their needs and wants.
We who have advantage of all basic needs have worked hard for its accomplishment. But so have the others. They have worked no less harder, but the Almighty showed us the way to an enlightened life. For the poor, it had some and did not have some. Why ? I still do not think that science could ever have an answer for it. I certainly do not and I am certain that many like minded would be in a similar dilemma. Which is why religion for the poor and needy is perhaps their most important crutch. They pray and they show devotion to the deities and Gods of the region, bring them along with the stories that have been associated with them for centuries, propel the truth of their existence, the values they possess and how prayer and hope can fill their life with a better tomorrow !!
It has worried me through my years of existence and worries me still because we do not have a solution for this ailment. But just like the others, I believe that hope shall be replaced by fact and fructify into more positive thought word and deed – namely, all the basic necessities required to live and survive in this world, shall come with some dignity and respect, at a time not too distant in the future.
I leave today with a heaviness, not of some physicality, but one that disturbs my mind – not such a good wave to be in possession of just when the night calls on us, to retire for the day …
Good night and with love …
Amitabh Bachchan

I was there today in one of the most congested regions of the city

Ahmedabad , Gujarat                   Jan 29/30 , 2012                                     Sun/Mon 12 : 20 AM

Uttarayan the festival of kite flying in this region, when the masses get up on their roofs, sing eat dance, play music, scream at every kite that takes off and that gets ‘cut’, by the competitor in the sky.
I was there today in one of the most congested regions of the city to get the right atmosphere for the shot and it was as you can see a bit overwhelming. But flying the kite was such a nostalgic feel. Perhaps after 60 years, during my time in my city of birth, Allahabad, that I was indulging again .. and cut my fingers too with the ‘manjha’, the crushed glass swiped thin thread that propels the kite into the air. The ‘saddi’ is the soft plainer thread that is used to tie up the kite and then fly it. But when competition starts from the other roofs, the idea is a competition of how to get rid of the other persons kite, but cutting off its flying thread. And this is done by tying to the ‘saddi’ a large length of ‘manjha’, which remains in the upper portion of the kite, so that when it encounters another kite soldier in its vicinity in the same sky they battle to cut it off – cut the tread that controls and flies the kite. Its a victory of course in the air and there is much jubilation from the roof you are at and from your team, when a few competitive kites are ‘cut’. In Allahabad or in UP, where the language is different, we used to shout – ” woh kaata !!”, ‘there we’ve cut it’ …
But really the most enthralling moment was driving back from the site … the mass of people, struggling pushing fighting the security, and their happy faces and shouts of ecstasy were just so much to be thankful for. It is difficult to control ones emotion at moments like this.
That done it was time for some philanthropy. The opening of  cancer hospital in the city, started by some US returned doctors, with the latest equipment and a motto that irrespective of he means of a patient, he or she would not be sent back because they did not have the funds to undergo treatment. All would be entertained and if they did not have the monetary support, the Hospital would consider them for free. Laudable gesture !!
Later, the Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi dropped by at the Hotel where I was staying to meet up and to personally thank me for the work that had been done in the field of Tourism for the State. He also educated us during the course of his stay on the ‘banini bhais’ or the ‘banini  buffalo’. I do sincerely hope I have got the name right – ‘banini’ or ‘banni’ ? Not quite sure. But its details were fascinating. A unique form of buffalo who’s quality of milk never suffered with extreme changes in climate. The tested milk would be the same if the buffalo was in  -23 degrees temperature or at + 52 degrees. And this species is only found in Gujarat – or so I was informed !!
There is a move to cross breed the cow found in the Gir forest region with their counterparts in Argentina ! Thats a long way away !!
But most of the afternoon after all these formalities was spent in watching the Australian Open Tennis final between Nadal and Djokovic. And what a match that was. On to a 5 setter and not a scratch of evidence throughout the game as to who the possible winner or champion would be. So intense and rugged the game was. Went on to create a record in its timings – beyond 5 hours ! No other Grand Slam Final had been played so long before …
I really feel most concerned for the girl friends of these champions that sit along with their team in the stands, with a prayer and expectation on their faces all the time. They must loose some serious pounds during each of these competitions !!
Tomorrow another early call, another fascinating location, another long drive and another new habitat for the night .. we are the roaming minstrels of the modern age !!
Love to you and shubh ratri ..
Amitabh Bachchan 

Patan Gujarat a good 3 hr drive from Ahmedabad

Patan , Gujarat                      Jan 28 ,  2012                               Sat 8 : 01 PM

Patan, Gujarat a good 3 hr drive from Ahmedabad one of the main cities of this state, and this step well. Enormous, incredible carving and even more incredible the concept. The rounded portion is the well and instead of dropping a rope down to collect the water, they built steps to get down to the bottom or the face of the water and each step is an entire floor or platform ornately built in some of the most incredible carvings that I have ever seen. The Solanki Kings built it around the AD 1022 and it remained buried in earth for centuries until some Western travelers saw a small protrusion of one of the arches and started digging to unveil this work of absolute genius. Each step is large enough to house and entire metro city high rise floor, sheltered from above by roof and space enough for travelers to rest and spend several days by the water. Because the way down was steep and difficult to maneuver with the bucket of water that was procured, resting on the heads of the ladies that collected it, the steps to the step platform was made diagonally and in several directions to ease the climb. They say the best way to climb mountains without getting too tired is to walk up diagonally. We used to try that in Sherwood, Nainital to much effect. Walk a few steps diagonally for some distance and then change direction to the reverse diagonal and climb again, almost zig-zag in design !
But this Rani ni Vav, or translated, the Queens Well, Vav in Gujarati means well, is an unbelievable sight. The carvings are so intricate that one does not ever want to leave the place. Not a single space is left undone and each space having a distinct design and story !!
Patan too is the place where they make the famous Patola sari. It is a craft that takes almost 3-4 years to create one sari and it is all done by hand. Many foreigners have tried to take the craft to their land and to industrialize it through machines, but it has never worked. There are just a handful of families left that make these exquisite saris and they pride themselves in being so.
This has been a great revelation and every effort to maintain this great inheritance must be exercised. The civilized world shall always hold us in judgement and hold us responsible if we did not.
But it really teaches us that centuries from now, when humanity shall come across what we leave behind in this era and age, would it live up to the standards that we see now in these ancient discoveries ..?
A thought maybe to go to sleep with and to think ..
Amitabh Bachchan 

A very Happy Basant Panchami to all

Patan, Gujarat                       Jan  28 , 2012                               Sat  10 : 51 PM

A very Happy Basant Panchami to all .. auspicious day, auspicious beginnings, auspicious feel ..

My sleep deprivation prevented me from saying what I did want to say last night, but once the wrong button was pressed and all was lost, I did not have the nerve or energy to recapture it. But I do today and so shall put in an additional ..
Here at Patan, some 3 hours away from Ahmedabad, we are at the location that also prides itself in making the Patola Saris. But of that later. First to unfinished information on the Sun Temple of Modhera.
Modhera was chosen as the site for the Sun temple because the Tropic of Cancer passes through the city. The design of the temple is such that it catches the morning rays through its front opening and goes past the first structure onto the next which is the sanctum sanctorum, the place of worship for the Sun God, which according to information by efficient guide bore a large diamond, strategically positioned to catch the sun ray. The reflection then lit up the temple. The water body is where the King first bathed, did ‘pooja’ to the 108 images of the God’s around the walls of the water body and the entered the ‘sabha grah’ or meeting place in the first structure to be in prayer. 52 pillars, intricately carved hold up this ‘sabha grah’, the number of weeks in a year. The Sun God has 12 names, after the number of months in a year – Suraj, Arun …etc. the stone used is sand stone hence the rapid wear and tear, but the artistry in carving images on it all the more difficult especially when you see how detailed and intricate it is ..
In one of the photographs you see the entire temple with a large portion of the broken plinth lying. You may notice that the base of the temple was done on the design of the lotus leaf, and as you went higher the elephants took over. There are 12 such Sun temples all over the country. One prominent one now in Multan, Pakistan and they say even in Afghanistan, for in those early days and years this was all one region. The other very prominent sun temple is in the East in the state of Orissa, or its changed name Odisa, at Konark. This one has as its base the chariot wheels. Konark is perhaps better preserved because the invaders could not reach so far. All the monuments to the West faced destruction through invasion, treasures inside looted many times over and the fine art work left in devastated ruin. Why destroy the fine and intricate architecture ? Such a painful experience to see the destruction of some of the most extraordinary craftsmanship. Hitler was an invader too and caused through the War massive destruction, not just of humans. But when he saw Paris, he desisted. He never allowed it to be bombed or destroyed and left it in its pristine artistic state. Pity many of our treasures were either stolen or reduced to rubble. The treasures looted by Mehmood Ghazni and others was immense. Nadir Shah took away the famous Peacock throne to Iran, the British among many others took away the fabulous Kohinoor diamond, which adorns the Queens Crown even today … would we ever get it back …? I wonder … !!
On special occasions the Sun temple invites guests to classical performances at the precincts. the famed Bharatnatyam is performed on the periphery of the structure and it is a delight. I have suggested to have a Son et Lumiere done too. I would be more than willing to do the commentary, just as I have to the many other heritage and important structures in the country – Khajuraho Temples, Gwalior Fort, Tirupati Fort, Golconda Fort, the Sikh Heritage Memorial, …
So do visit the photographs again and live with its glory … a glory which we are trying to restore and restructure ..
My love ..
Amitabh Bachchan

Not having slept last night in Mumbai since work

Modhera , Gujarat                Jan 27 , 2012                                 Fri  11 : 33 PA

I am sleep deprived. Not having slept last night in Mumbai since work and activities finished late and by the time it was 3 AM, it was an hour away from catching the flight to Ahmedabad and then driving a few hours to Modhera, the Sun Temple.
Exquisite is the word for it, but even that seems almost apologetic when we wish to describe the sight of this monument.
Oh dear ! this sleep deprivation has robbed me of my senses and I have mistakenly pressed a wrong button and all that I had to say in the glory of the Sun Temple I have lost. But maybe tomorrow I shall try and retrieve it ..
For tonight … good night

Amitabh Bachchan

Friday, January 27, 2012

When many thoughts and ideas cross your mind

Jalsa  , Mumbai              Jan  26/27,  2012              Thu/Fri  1 : 15 AM 

 ET … happy birthday ! You are hidden in name, but not in our spirit of extended family .. love

When many thoughts and ideas cross your mind, how does one sift one from the other. All of them carry weight and value, all of them shed inhibitions to project themselves ahead of each other, and all of them believe they shall and will succeed ! I have no doubt at all that they will, but who shall have the priority is what disturbs me. We love to challenge our selves in modes of creativity, challenge ourselves when we seek to prove the other wrong, challenge ourselves to come out a winner against an adversary. Challenge is prime. Without it I wonder if achievement could ever be measured fairly. In fact the truest achievement comes from some form of a hidden challenge. We are either challenging another or ourselves. Challenge to avenge another comes from personal attributes. Creative challenge should come from us, our desire to prove ourselves different or wrong or both.
Challenge could be motivational too. A destination which could have been ignored or forgotten, but one that has now cultivated itself to such a degree that, when accomplished it shall bring satisfaction. Not just to ourselves but in the quality of the work undertaken.
One could strive for qualitative work, be immersed in it and succeed. But who is to judge what is quality. I believe in designing the quality. But that would be of a standard that complies with my assessment. It may not however, be complimentary to what some others may design. Who then shall set the standard. I believe that I have certain values of standard, as does another. But if these standards do not meet, who had the better ? Or rather who was the creator of the greater valued quality.
If your standard is not standard then who’s standard are we following, or not following. That is the million dollar question – or keeping day to day financials in mind, that is the the million Deutsch mark question. The German currency being the most important and of value than of any other in Europe or even the world at this moment. Smart, efficient, hard working German Deutsch mark creators. When the rest of Europe goes to party at 9 pm, the German they say, goes to bed – to rise early and work !! A fantastic resurgence, when all else around them is falling apart !
Anyhow. When the standards are set at a value which in your mind is of high value, they need respect and acceptance and recognition. But what of those that feel that the standard set by them, albeit inferior to ours, is prime. And what of those that consider that this then is the ultimate standard. Majority wins. True standard remains a minority and needs to be shunned or not brought attention to.
So the yardstick of excellence if judged by standard would obviously go to the majority. But they may not necessarily be the standard. And if the yardsticks are in a minority, then their presence or status shall ever be decimated or brought down the ladder, to remain there, undiscovered, ignored and trashed in one conclusive stroke.
In the world of desire for excellence, the bitter truth is that if your standard does not fall in the realm of the lower deciphered majority, you may well decide to pursue another vocation, for in this one, there shall be little hope.
My pursuits in excellence shall never deter me from a desire to achieve that, which I shall believe in my estimates to be of great value. It may never fall within the accepted category of the others, but so long as it falls within my own, I shall be a pleased and happy man.
I am a pleased and happy man in this respect, but perhaps never with respect to being satisfied. That satisfaction shall always be an eternal struggle ..
My love ..
Amitabh Bachchan

Coming in a short while ago from Rajkot on a heavily delayed flight

Jalsa , Mumbai                      Jan 25/26 ,  2012                      Thu/Fri  2 : 42 AM

Back as you can see in homely environs, coming in a short while ago from Rajkot on a heavily delayed flight. A marriage of a dear friend’s son tomorrow and mandatory to be here to bless the couple and be with the parents whose wedding I had attended too ! Some traditions run somewhat deep in this part of the world. Oprah Winfrey as she sat with us in Jalsa seemed amazed that joint families existed and that the tradition of the elder progeny wanting to stand on his own feet to be able to support the family and look after the aged parents, instead of selfishly running off to lead an independent life after striking 18 !!
But marriages are an important event and there is great emphasis on its attendance. Though some of the more wise have believed that missing a birthday or a wedding could pass muster, but never miss a funeral, it is always remembered !!
So I am home for just some hours, I get back to the grind and to the promotion of tourism in the State of Gujarat in a day. But I must admit even though the schedule has been extremely trying and tiring, I do miss the discovery of fresh and new locations, their history and of course the cheering crowds along the drive ways, ecstatic and so welcoming …
Junagadh is not a place often visited by film artistes and hence the enthusiasm to see them live and in person has a charm of its own, as also the turn out in large numbers on the streets to get a glimpse of their heroes. To many it must be the very first time they ever saw a movie star. The look on their faces and their expressions are a give away. The honesty of their feeling and the surprised looks within them is the most endearing factor for me. The cars and the cavalcade moves at some rapid pace, and it does become difficult to connect themselves with the actor. So I request the driver to slow down and if possible sit in the front seat for them to get  abetter view .. it works always, else they keep searching every car and before you know it its gone past and its over, that moment.
I reel over my desk now fatigued by the constant travel, the new bed, the new room and adjusting to it daily, so I shall seek forgiveness and beg leave. But I shall return !! And soon hopefully .. Till then . good night ..
Amitabh Bachchan

My parents wedding anniversary today the 24th of January

Junagadh , Gujarat                       Jan 24 , 2012                 Tue  8 : 49 PM
Its a day out in the city of Junagadh. The location some minutes away from the residence where I rest. The streets lined with the happy faces of fans and well wishers. It seems like the good old days ! Of the mid 70′s to the 90′s and then some more … but to have them at age 70 seems a little out of place. I wonder at times what they must think and why they push themselves to come out in such large numbers and cheer and scream.
The caves where we shoot are 3rd and 4th century, carved out of a single rock of mountain into rooms and drainages and storage for water compartments, stairs leading to other compartments below and generous sized rooms or areas with closeted walls. I wonder what went on in here in those times. They say they were Buddhist caves where meditation and peaceful existence of the Buddhist teachings were taught. Some reading that I was doing stated that Buddhism existed even before Hinduism, but that would be debatable.
Some repairs have been conducted by the Archeological Survey of India, a Government body that looks after and cares about all heritage sites.

The caves and the pillars and the rooms below, some walls strengthened by modern pillars to support the walls from caving in. But distressing to note that among the letterings and carvings of old, there is evidence of modern defilement, where lovers find themselves expressing their fondness on the walls. Was this the only place in the entire city to express their ‘love’. There is no sense of pride in our heritage and in the preservation of what we must guard and secure from the ravages of time, as our most prized possession … our, our country’s .. India’s .. embarrassing !!
These are markings on some of the walls. They look Arabic and could be the remnants of the Moghul invasion and their rule over the country. These markings were found to be of a later date than the construction of the caves for Buddhist learning and meditation. Perhaps to justify the presence of the new rulers ! Below is someof the genuine and related carvings on the walls -

A closer view of the Arabic letterings ..
And above the back waters before reaching the Rann of Kutch, where the most exquisite birds were found, early morning .. serene and just so beautiful !

My parents wedding anniversary today the 24th of January .. a sudden unplanned meeting of the two at a common friends place on the 1st of January and an instant decision to get married. An inter caste marriage – she a Sikh girl from an affluent Sikh family out of Lyallpur, Lahore and Karachi and my Father a poet of very limited means from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. She with all the grace and etiquette fromBritish nannies in her employ, her Father Khazan Singh Suri a Bar at Law from England in the late 1800′s, his wife and my Grandmother from another prominent family of the Punjab, Sodhi, whose ancestors were on the Prabandhak Committee that served and looked after the Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara. My Grandfather served as a Revenue Minister in erstwhile Patiala State. My Father and his Father a teacher and a clerk in an office. My Mother and her family enjoying the summer months in Muree the it hill resort, now in Pakistan, driven in the latest British cars. My Father living in almost mud laden houses, studying in the night with lanterns, sitting on the floor on wooden desks and walking miles everyday to earn a meagre tuition fee of about Rs 24/- , to be able to feed and run his family home.
My Mother modern and brought up in near Western environs. My Father ortodox Indian and Eastern in his upbringing. And I their first born the bearer of a wonderful mix of the West and the East in mine.
My Mother introducing me to Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan the famous conductor, to films, theatre, modern art galleries, sporting events, outgoing, fun loving, warm hearted and full of joie de vivre. My Father asking me to accompany him to ‘kavi sammelans’ , poetic evenings in remote smaller cities in the middle of the night, reciting his works to lakhs of enthusiastic listeners and to earn that little extra to be able to add to the means within which we lived, to send me to a boarding school and thereafter to University.
And I remember today the winter Delhi evenings and night when a few friends would gather together at our home to celebrate this auspicious day. Special food being cooked by special friends, music impromptu with a ‘dholak’ and spoon and the singing of Punjabi folk songs and those from U.P constructed especially for weddings ! The fire burning bright in the fireplace, and all of us wrapped round in blankets and wollies sitting by it and enjoying the liberty of a late night, but within a day to be up again very early in the morning to go across to India Gate on the 26th to find a vantage seat for the Republic Day Parade. Ah ! The pride and the thrill of watching Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru drive in and then receive the President in ceremony and then the official march past of India’s armed wealth, culminating in the roaring climax of the jets from the Air Force flying past in intricate formation. And then the tricolor balloons sent off into the air amidst chants and screams of a proud nation as the gun salutes went off and the National Anthem was played by the pipes and band of the armed forces …
Today I guess the Delhiites still show the same enthusiasm on the 26th and venture out to witness the grand display, the rest of India switching on the Tv sets to get a glimpse of the event, perhaps. Not many have the desire to get up early. But in our time before the Tv there was All India Radio and the wonderful sonorous and eloquent commentators – Melvyn de Mello and Surajit Sen, who took us through the day making us feel the proceedings almost as though they happened in front of our eyes.
A few days later came the most elegant ceremony of the Beating of the Retreat at Vijay Path, right below the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the exquisite march past and the filing of the various bands, culminating with that famous hymn when the bells from the two towers of the Secretariat, synchronized their sound with the band below and then almost magically the entire frontage of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Secretariat would light up in almost Diwali light fashion, in excellent timing.
To me the precision and the smart elegance of all these events demonstrated a most efficient system that worked to order. A system that was monitored and executed by the Armed Forces. I believe, and do excuse me if I am wrong, but the only institution that brings in the kind of organized discipline, precision and order remains just with the Army. The uniform and the respect that it receives still, is awe inspiring. And I would like to believe that this may be so in almost every other country.
It is a fact that when we see order and formation and its precise execution, it brings in us a sense of pride, of security and of a feel that all is well – ‘these are our boys and girls !!’
Parade attention !! Left and right turn !! Stand at ease !
Love and more …
Amitabh Bachchan

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ye Kahan Aa Gaye Hum-Lata Mangeshkar & Amitabh Bachchan Live In shradhan...

Breathe in a bit of Gujarat

Bhuj , Gujarat           Jan  22 ,  2012                   Sun  11 : 15 PM

Come … ! Breathe in a bit of Gujarat !!
Taking some very pretty ladies for a ride …
…. and the personal convoy to work .. police escort ambulance and all .. embarrassing na ?

Early call tomorrow at 5 am … with the birds … the real kind !!!
Love and goodnight ..
Amitabh Bachchan

Monday, January 23, 2012

I do not remember travelling through a State as extensively as the one I work on in such a limited time

Junagadh , Gujarat                  Jan  23 ,  2012                  Mon  11 : 28 PM

 I do not remember travelling through a State as extensively as the one I work on in such a limited time. Gujarat has been a revelation to me of culture and dress and food and custom and wondrous stories of the times when there was flourish and pageant and ceremony. It is there still and in perhaps a greater awareness, but just listening to the old stories of the region as you drive and fly past has been most rewarding.

Th early hours of the morning saw us packing all our belongings at Bhuj to drive to a location with the back waters and the birds that have migrated from the Northern Hemisphere, due to the extreme cold to milder weather here in the Rann of Kutch. There were all kinds of them, silently floating about in search of food in the gentle and still waters that line and fill up the otherwise arid terrain, on either side of the carriageway that winds its way along the countryside for miles. There is no vegetation, just the wild 'babool' shrubs with the infamous 'babool kanta' – the babool thorns. The cattle around does not eat it, nor is it of any use for the habitation. But there is talk of gently burning the shrubs to allow it to be scorched sufficiently in order that they can be used for coal burning. We asked and tried hard to find out how the burning of these shrubs could possibly produce coal ? But the villagers around would not relent and went about demonstrating how it was done and how this waste product had now become an earner for the poor villager. So be it.

The birds of various sizes and hues was a magnificent site to see, except we had forgotten to bring our binoculars, and so could not see much, and worse were unable to have a powerful enough lens to film them for camera stills. But some of the crew said they got some rather interesting shots of them before we arrived on the location and they would show it to us, but none did. Also there, it was back to wearing a helmet and on to a Royal Enfield Bullet bike, a bit ancient, but such a loved and popular piece of machinery ! That done we drove another few hours to a handicrafts village where the most exquisite designed clothing with the special embroidery work is accomplished by hand from very talented locals, excelling in their craft through generations and for the sale of it through various foreign buyers. Fascinating absolutely. And the dress and demeanor of their clothing very close to those one sees in adjoining Rajasthan State. That done, it was back to the car and the massive convoy that rides along, for another 2 hrs to the airport at Mundra and quickly out on to the waiting private jet to fly to Rajkot. So after about 5 hrs of driving since the morning and working on different locations it was back to the plane and on to the next city. Several hundred kilometers were flown over in just 20 mins and on arriving at the airport drove straight on for another 3 hrs to Junagadh.

We are all sore and exhausted, but the company has been lively and educative and interesting, so one never felt the time passing by. Also, thanks to the most generous publicity done by some of the very large and kind media presence, all the villages that we drove through had masses of people lining up on the side of the street, cheering us on which was such a rewarding gesture !

The tourism campaign has been a massive boon to the locals and what they were going to earn with great difficulty in an year, they were able to get that within a month, during the festival times and the general increase of the tourist population. Tourism has been a huge earner for any country or city or place of interest. With the economic situation in the West at not its best a great amount of attention is being paid to India, and one way of furthering it has been the efforts being made to bring in greater amount of tourists. American tourism has dropped from almost 16%, to a meagre 7%. Spain is trying to boost its economy through the path of enhanced tourism, and here in Gujarat thanks to this wonderful campaign, the percentage increase as I said earlier is bigger than in any other part of the country, and indeed greater than the National Campaign of 'Incredible India' …

Landing at Rajkot and driving through the streets to our next destination was nostalgic. I had come here ages ago for the shooting of my film 'Main Azaad Hoon' and had faced the ire and wrath of demonstrations against me, because of the false allegations on the Bofors matter. Students and elders and society in general waved black flags wherever I went, painting me out to be a traitor of the country, without any justification. I was asked to go back. But we stuck in with our work and after completing it did we return. Today life had changed. We fought the accusations against us in some of the major courts of the world, won and proved to those that had accused us that they were wrong and we were right. The real persons involved were named by the courts after intense judicial and intelligence procedures and efforts are on still to proceed against them legally. Today the airport is not as unwelcome as before. Today the media generously waits to capture the moment of my arrival. There is jubilation in the eyes of the public and garlands and flowers and gifts in place of the black flags. It took a while, but it proved that justice done was correct and faultless and all prevailing. I do not and never shall look upon it as a vindication, but instead look upon it as a portion of the learning process that life has to offer. Yes the public has a right to express their anger, but they equally are responsible for showing love on realizing that the facts were incorrect. It is wiser to appreciate this than to sit on procedure or ego or any pride that may well be the norm in such situations. I could go round turning the town red by rubbing in my innocence, but other than giving me a sore throat and colored hands, it would do nothing else. For me my happiness is that I am able to share this moment with you who are my Ef. I would hesitate to speak about it elsewhere. It does not appeal to me of being the right ethics. I would much rather gain the experience as a learning than beat a hollow drum about it.

In Rajkot too, Jaya and I have initiated a Blood Bank, which has grown to exceedingly worthwhile proportions and its success and progress reflects in its enhanced existence. The foundation stone for that was laid by me in this very city and today that complex and structure which started off as a small facility has become one of the leading blood banks of the country. I would much rather be proud of that, than of the vindicated victory. What worth will it bring to me to shout out the wrong of the other and my own right. Nothing. Best it would be to take that in as part of my destiny, part of my life's learning and move on to the next challenge. It may not always be fruitful. There could be a moment when things could go extremely wrong too, but at least one must make effort to face it and fight it rather than give in tamely. " I would rather be a plucky loser, if ever I were to lose, than to be one suffering from abject retired hurt, or an easy giving in "

In life nothing is permanent and nothing without struggle. If you are not prepared for it, or think otherwise, you could not be a bigger fool ..

My love always,

Amitabh Bachchan


Friday, January 20, 2012

I have finally discovered the joys of being pampered by a pedicure

Jalsa , Mumbai            Jan  20/21,  2012        Fri/Sat 1 : 32 AM
I have finally discovered the joys of being pampered by a pedicure and a manicure. I have finally discovered why the ladies spend half their lives in the parlor. I have finally discovered what an idiot I was in not succumbing to the luxury of pretty ladies looking after your feet and hands while you comfortably watch the Australian Open Tournament. And I have finally discovered what a fine art it is to get your nails in shape. All my misgivings far far away from reality. And so shall they remain.

Off again to Gujarat tomorrow and into the second phase of the tourism campaign, which I must admit has turned out to be a magnificent success. The growth rate in tourism in Gujarat has been bigger and larger than the Government of India campaign Incredible India and that has made all those of us that were involved in the working of it, very proud. All those that criticized, all those that raised objectionable content against me, all laid to rest. It is satisfying to see how the work you put in succeeds, but even more so when it succeeds despite heavy apprehensive motivations. It is not in order to talk about achievements. Achievements have a habit of talking themselves, so one shall not rub in the moment. But one cannot but lament the expense of such negativity, the energy wasted and the destruction of all the positive forces within. Its futility is a heavy price to pay. Better then to wait for results before pulling out the sword from the scabbard.
Nikhat Kazmi a generous film critic from the Times of India stable, has passed away after a long struggle with cancer. A buoyant demeanor and a genuine lover of film, she was never too harsh in her assessments and comment. She was also rather liberal with the stars that she assigned to the ratings of the films released and in general was a much loved person in the community. Our prayers and condolences.

Many readers and followers of stars and their fans, many non interested watchers, general public, have wondered why celebrities when photographed in their cars entering or leaving a venue or event, have such peculiar looks on their faces. Well the reason is the above ! The media blocks your vehicle, does not allow it to move, flashes the daylights out of you with their multiple cameras, and if you dare touch them while driving out, which you can well imagine would require some dextrous skills, they would create mayhem and their channels would only run that portion where the ‘journalist was manhandled’.
And Filmfare wishes to acknowledge two personalities that have contributed greatly to our Industry and they talk to me about them because I shall not be able to be at the function. It is a Lifetime Achievement Award for the music duo and the masters in their craft Laxmikant Pyarelal — Laxmi ji we have sadly lost. The other is for my very first leading lady Aruna Irani, a fine and most accomplished artist in any field of performance, one that began her career in the most humble beginnings and worked her way up to glory and fame. So proud of them all and the fact that they be honored thus.
Good night dearest ones .. will attempt to connect from the regions of Gujarat in the next days and fervently hoping that I am able to get internet connections in the remote areas that we plan to visit. I shall be such a lost soul if I did not …

Amitabh Bachchan 

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