For the last six years,the Penguin Annual Lecture has featured personalities such as writer Thomas Friedman,Noble Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen,spiritual leader Dalai Lama and former President APJ Abdul Kalam. The 2013 lecture added an actor to this list Amitabh Bachchan.
The superstar delivered an hour-long talk on his concerns about literature,primarily the high rate of illiteracy among women,as well as the wider circulation of films as compared to books. Everybody can watch an Indian film,even those who cannot read a book,as it does not require any training or expertise, he told an audience of more than 200 who had gathered at Thyagaraj Sports Complex on Friday for the event,organised by publisher Penguin Books India. Bachchan ended the talk by reciting a few poems by his father,Harivansh Rai Bachchan,and adding,People are going to forget me in a couple of years. But a book,a writer and a poet will live in the hearts of people for thousands of years.
The lecture was followed by
a Q&A session,and an obvious
poser was which literary character he would like to play on screen. I would like to play the character my father played in his autobiography, Bachchan responded.
When a member of the audience talked about the dwindling respect that poetry commands today,Bachchan agreed. Not enough poetry is written,publicised and marketed these days, he said.