For Amitabh Bachchan’s audience, 2000 was the year of his second coming when he reinvented himself with Kaun Banega Crorepati. For the Bollywood superstar, it was time of immense pain as he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was on strong pain medication.
The superstar revealed that he was diagnosed with the disease on the day he started shooting for his hit show, KBC. “In 2000, I was detected with TB and went through a very rigorous treatment for almost a year. I contracted TB on the day I was going to start TV show KBC. It was a TB of spine. It’s very uncomfortable. You cannot sit or lie down. Most of the time, I was on 8-10 pain killers a day just to survive the period when I was anchoring the game show,” the megastar said as he joined US Ambassador to India Richard R Verma, civil society and health workers for a reception ahead of World Tuberculosis Day on March 24.
“I am a tuberculosis survivor” and that is why “I took up” the cause of spreading awareness about the disease, Big B said ahead of World Tuberculosis Day on Monday. “Many people ask me why I contribute my services to medical cause. I have had a complicated medical history. One of the reasons I took up TB is because I am a TB survivor.”
He said that with treatment for a year, he became free of the disease. “The reason I disclosed is that I felt that the word survivor is somehow is a very powerful word. When I say I am TB survivor, it seems like I survived a plane crash or boat sinking. If you survive that, it lends a lot of power and strength to what you are saying deeper. It’s like saying that I have survived it because I went through a process,” he said.
“...I said let me go there and say I am a TB survivor and I play with my grandchildren and live a normal life. That it cannot get transferred. There are precautions, of course,” he said.
Bachchan, who is the Centre’s brand ambassador for ‘Call to Action for a TB-free India’, said TB is normally associated with people who live with lesser means but everybody is “vulnerable” to the disease. “It seems a little arrogant and immodest to say but what I really want to say is that if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. It’s not trying to place degree among people. It’s just trying to say that anyone can contract TB. If it is not detected in time, it can become grave. I had the medical help and guidance to get it detected and if I am sitting here as healthy, it was partly because we were able to detect the disease in time,” he said.
He said that medical science has improved over the years and there is very “efficient and professional” treatment for TB. “I do hope that just like we worked continuously and rigorously towards polio eradication, which was something I was associated as brand ambassador for the United Nations for eight years. We finally have a polio-free India. I hope in times to come, with all our combined efforts, we can say that India is now TB free,” he said.
The programme included insights from a short documentary on Deepti Chavan, a multi-drug resistant TB survivor and active patient advocate while several other survivors spoke.