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Big B on backfoot

I only wanted a debate, says Bachchan as Bollywood speaks up for Slumdog Millionaire.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2009 17:15 IST

I only wanted a debate, says Bachchan as Bollywood speaks up for Slumdog Millionaire

Even as cinemas in Delhi ramp up plans for this Friday’s release of Slumdog Millionaire, now considered a big movie after its huge critical success, Amitabh Bachchan defends his blog against the film, saying “an entire machinery of abuse” has been directed towards him for no reason at all.

Bachchan’s latest comments on his blog come after Indian filmmakers, including Oscar-nominated Shekhar Kapur, spoke up for Slumdog. Disagreeing with the view that the film is a Westerner’s perception of India’s “dirty underbelly”, Kapur writes in his blog, “Let’s get it right, Slumdog... is an Indian film. It is easily the most successful Indian film ever. So what if the funds came from outside India. The funds for [Kapur’s] Bandit Queen came from the same source and it is considered an Indian film. The funds for Chandni Chowk to China came from Warner Brothers, but it is considered an Indian film.”

Bhavna Talwar, who made the acclaimed Dharm, points out, “A film is made by a filmmaker’s vision and sensibility, not nationality. Human emotions are universal, be it an Indian or Western audience.” Kunal Kohli, the director of Fanaa, agrees, “Audiences do not judge a film on the basis of its maker, but how it’s made.”

Faced with all this opposition, Bachchan feels hard done by. “All the expressions that have been attributed to me are in fact the expressions of others. Or perceived impressions of others,” he writes. “Where is the indication that this impression is concretely mine? There is none!!” Big B now believes he will not be able to speak his mind after seeing the film: “If I do not like it, there will be greater abuse. If I like it, there will be abuse.”

Busy plans
All this controversy, to say nothing of the awards, has worked in Slumdog’s favour.

In keeping with its new fame, distributors are revamping plans. About 200 prints will be released in English and Hindi (Slumdog Crorepati). The film’s new posters will have the details of Slumdog’s 11 Bafta nominations and 4 Golden Globes. A four-city tour of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad is also planned. In Delhi, multiplex owners are putting their money on the film. “It’s huge after the Golden Globes,” confirms Deepak Taluja of Satyam.

— Princy Jain and IANS