Megastar Amitabh Bachchan may have had a short tryst with politics but the actor says he is still not able to get over the times as he “regrets not fulfilling the promises” he made to the people of his constituency- Allahabad.
The 73-year-old National award-winning actor took a break from acting in 1984 to enter politics in support of a long-time family friend, Rajiv Gandhi. He contested Allahabad’s seat and won by a huge margin.
His political career, however, was short-lived as he resigned after three years.
“I mostly think of it because there are many promises that one makes during an election campaign when you seek votes from people. My inability to keep those promises hurts. If there is anything that I regret then it is that,” he said.
“I made a lot of promises to the city of Allahabad and to its people but I wasn’t able to fulfil them.
“I try to do whatever I can in any social capacity but I know it is something that people of Allahabad will always hold against me,” Bachchan said during a discussion with Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt at an event Off The Cuff.
Bachchan said his decision to join politics was emotional but when he got into it, he realised that emotions had no place there.
“I think my decision was emotional. I wanted to go and help a friend, but when I went there and got into it. I realised that it has nothing to do with emotions. I realised that I am incapable of doing it and so, I left.”
When asked if his decision to quit politics cost him his friendship with the Gandhi family, Bachchan said, “I don’t think it cost me at all. Friendship is not lost at all.”
When further asked why he does not talk about that friendship, the actor said, “How do you talk about (a) friendship? We are friends.”
Indian actors are hesitant to share their political opinion as opposed to the US where big Hollywood stars take political position during elections. Asked if the fear of backlash and controversy prevents Indian actors from sharing their views on the political scenario of the country.
Bachchan said, “You become an artist and there are people who love you and there is a desire to reciprocate that. If it happens to be a politician who loves you then also you reciprocate that.
“So what does that mean? Just because I am reciprocating it does not mean I am going to love their politics. I don’t think so.
“When you do not do something like that then we fear of a repercussion. Politicians are very powerful people. I don’t know if they can damage or harm to what extent because there is the court of law. But the process of going to law and battle politics is not my job. My job is to be on camera and deliver my good. I don’t want to divert my attention.”
Bachchan said that in the US, the audience is “more mature” than in India and that may be the reason why their stars are upfront about their political views.
“Hollywood has a lot mature audience. Here it is still a little bit limited. When I was electioneering for Congress in Assam, my helicopter landed at a location of the opposition.
“Soon, the police asked us to leave. There were youngsters in the crowd and one of them ran up to the helicopter and smashed the window glass and put a paper on my hand.
“In it, he wrote that he is my big fan but I was dividing his attention and so I should leave.
“It is something that artists have to face. We spend our lifetime into getting people to love us and we suddenly ask them that you love me so love my politics I don’t think it is right,” he said.
Bachchan’s upcoming film ‘Pink’, a courtroom drama-thriller, sees him play a lawyer of three young women who face assault charges after being molested by a group of men.
Directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, “Pink” is produced by Rashmi Sharma and filmmaker Shoojit Sircar. Sircar, who is known for making politically-charged films like “Yahaan” and “Madras Café”, says cinema is his way of expressing his view about political situations of the country.
“My medium of expression is cinema. In my films, there have been political messages. My first film ‘Yahaan’ which was set in Kashmir, released in 2005.
What I made then, I can see is happening there now. The conversation in that film is so evident now. I am surprised.
“I can only express through my films. In ‘Pink’ also there is a huge political statement that I have made,” Sircar said.