Monday, August 2

Kolkata recounts 50-year affair with Big B a day after Phalke honour

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The Shahenshah has another feather in his cap and Kolkata — the city where he had started his professional journey as a corporate executive five decades ago — couldn’t be more delighted. As news of Amitabh Bachchan being awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke spread, the city travelled back in time to the days when a lanky youngster with a dream of making it big in films hung around Park Street and roamed the Maidan after a hard day’s work at his Dalhousie office. Despite his growing stature and busy schedule, Bachchan’s link with Kolkata has never snapped.

It has, in fact, become stronger over the years, felt filmmaker Anirudhha Ray Choudhury, who directed the megastar in ‘Pink’. “He carries a bit of Kolkata with him, which makes it a delight to converse with him. Bachchan makes it a point to speak in Bengali to those from the city, including myself. While shooting for ‘Pink’, I would always chat and discuss scenes with him in Bengali. For instance, I always say ‘aschhi’ to take his leave. Being familiar with the language, he would always reply in Bengali, too. The Dadasaheb Phalke brings double joy to us as Kolkatans, even though Bachchan is a global figure now,” said Ray Choudhury, who is now based in Mumbai.

A regular on Park Street during his days as an executive at Blacker & Co, one of Bachchan’s favourite hangouts was Trincas. He returned to the restaurant for dinner a couple of times after he became a star, recalled owner Deepak Puri. “Unfortunately, I never got to meet him. But my father Omprakash did. I have heard from him that Bachchan liked the metal glasses in which we served beer then. My father presented him with one during one of his visits,” said Puri.

While shooting for ‘Do Anjaane’ in 1974, Bachchan had dropped in at Trincas for a late dinner with a couple of co-stars. Fresh from his ‘Zanjeer’ success, the rising superstar ordered champagne after the meal. Vishnumohan Wadehra, then a manager at the restaurant, served him.

“Bachchan was in the company of two other stars so we respected their privacy. He looked chirpy and content to be able to return to Trincas and was obviously telling the other two about his earlier visits,” recalled Wadehra who is still associated with the establishment.

As soon as the news of the award broke on Tuesday evening, members of All Bengal Amitabh Bachchan Fans’ Association organized an impromptu celebration at the ‘Bachchan temple’ in south Kolkata’s Bondel area. The temple has a fibre-glass statue of the superstar, which is regularly ‘worshipped’.

“We danced to songs from films for three hours last evening and distributed sweets. The celebrations have just begun and they will continue till he gets the Bharat Ratna. He deserved the award and this is great news for us,” said secretary Sanjay Patodia.

The association members plan to travel to Mumbai and congratulate Bachchan in person on his birthday on October 11. “This one will be special for he is now the recipient of the nation’s highest film award. Like every year, we will carry a gift for him. This time, it will be a cheque for the flood-affected people of Maharashtra. Bachchan ji has asked us to help those in distress,” he added.


Source: Times of India

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