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Big B in ‘small country with big heart’

world Updated: Apr 21, 2010 01:12 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Like in many of his movies, Amitabh Bachchan’s entry into the plush venue for the press conference in Colombo was delayed till, well, the right moment – even if that meant a nearly two-hour wait for reporters. And then it was close to another two hours before he spoke.

Bachchan was in Colombo for a day to announce the launch of the glitzy International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Sri Lanka. The 11thedition of the awards would be held in Colombo between June 3 and June 5.

The IFFA awards are being held since 2000 and have been held in London, Amsterdam, Singapore, Johannesburg and Dubai among others. In 2009, it was held in Macau.

The five-star venue, meanwhile, had filled up with journalists, public relation executives, and a large number of invitees who had come to catch a glimpse of the actor. Pretty Lankan actress, Jacqueline Fernandez came and daintily sat on the front row as her parents kept watch from a row behind.

Once he arrived, wearing a pinstripe suit and thick-rimmed glasses, Bachchan took over the reins of the function with practiced ease.

Many years ago, Bachchan, had come to Sri Lanka to shoot for the completely avoidable movie, Sooryavansham.

But this visit was clearly different and much more under media glare; he even met President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his wife and two of his sons in the evening for 45 minutes. They chatted about cricket and current affairs.

Bachchan called Sri Lanka "a small country with a big heart."

Later, during an informal interaction with the media, Bachchan spoke about how cinema could work, and often does, as a bridge between communities.

Bachchan told me that he has been approached by Google to appear on live videos; updates with live visuals. "As I’ m speaking to you, this would appear on screen through," he said, adding a promise; "don’t worry, I will write good things about you."

Of course, everyone who spoke about him – and there were many – including Central Bank governor, Ajith Cabraal, had only good things to say: "actor of the decade", actor of the millennium" and "greatest actor of the subcontinent."