Superstar Amitabh Bachchan on Friday said that Oscar awards should not be considered as the ‘ultimate recognition’ for artists though he was glad that those working behind the scenes were finally getting their due credit. “You people have taken the Oscar as the best recognition and award,” Bachchan said when asked if there was dearth of good Indian movies as very few have managed to get into an Oscar race.

“They are great in their place and we are so in our place. It is not that Oscar awards are the ultimate recognition,” he told an audience during the release of a book on him ‘Bachchanalia’ at the Jaipur Literature Festival in Jaipur. However, he hastened to add that he was happy that the artistes who were working behind the scenes were finally getting their due recognition. Bachchan said the nomination of Indian sound director Rasool Pookutty for an Oscar is all the more important, besides that of Rahman and Gulzar.

“It is encouraging when we see that the media, which conducts the film award ceremonies in India has started recognising the worth of background artists. Rasool, a sound engineer from India being nominated for the Oscar awards is definitely a wonderful news and makes me terribly happy for him,” Bachchan said. “Moreover, I hope that Rahman, who has already done India immensely proud brings back a second Oscar to the country,” he said, a day after Indians bagged six Oscar nominations

“Oscar has its own place. We do not disrespect it. If they wish to give us an Oscar they can do it. If not, it would be even better,” he said. “India cinema has always stood first, stands first, is the best, Oscar has its own place,” Bachchan said at the interaction.

The 66 year old legendary actor also chose to clarify his remarks over Danny Boyle’s film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ that bagged 10 Oscar nominations. Bachchan said he believed the film was an artist’s creative presentation and everyone had the right of expression. He denied that while writing his blog he had opined that the film was negative in depicting the poverty of India.

“The words were not mine. In fact, in my blog I had analysed some comments on the film put on my blog by the readers. I have since then spoken to both Anil Kapoor and Danny Boyle and clarified my position,” Bachchan said. On why he did not attend a nomination function despite an invite from Anil Kapoor, he said he was busy and conveyed his good wishes and congratulations to entire team of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Asked whether Indian movies were fulfilling the aspirations of viewers and reviewers abroad, Bachchan said he was very happy as Indian films were catering to amount 2.5 billion people. “Look at cinema from the beginning, 50-70 years ago, it was not well respected. No one wanted to join the film line then, now the Indian cinema has grown tremendously, enveloped all of us.”

“Criticism and cynicism at the international level gives us a satisfaction of growing Indian cinema’s standard. We are a pioneer in film creativity and talent is no way inferior. If given an opportunity, we can make brilliant films for foreign competition”, he said. “Indian movie has now greater acceptability, more and more movies are being screened in foreign countries like Japan, US and China,” Bachchan said. Praising the 10 Oscar nominations for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, Bachchan said Bhanu Athaiya, the costume designer of film ‘Gandhi’, was the first to get the Oscar award. “There are people who work behind the making of film. There was a time when they were not noticed, now even my make-up man could get any award one day. Dignity and respect should be given to them who work behind the camera and now time has come for each member of the film unit to be recognised,” he said.

Describing cinema as a uniting medium, Bachchan said there was no better example of an integrated India than a cinema hall. On a question of violence being increasingly depicted in Indian movies, he said they were only reflecting the reality. “Movie is the strong medium of expression and creativity to depict what ever happening in the society.”

“Bihar records the maximum crime but has less movie halls. Andhra Pradesh has the maximum movie theatres. It is the movies that keep communal harmony as people of all communities and religion sit together in the hall to watch a movie, where they laugh together, weep together. Tell me how cinema is promoting violence”, he asked.

‘ Bachchanalia : The Films and Memorabilia of Amitabh Bachchan’, co-authored by Bhawana Somaaya is a collection of pictures and posters of Bachchan’s films. “It was a novel concept of capturing and preserving your forgotten past for posterity, with the caption lending an idea of what was the state of cinema at the time,” he said.

Asked whether Indian literature is moving in the right direction, Bachchan, who is son of renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, said, “I do agree that the importance of written word- the great literature written in the past  is being forgotten.””We not only need to revive the interest of young generation, but we require an instrument, ideas, inspiration and promote it”. About how he has influenced son Abhishek as an artiste, Bachchan said he shared more of a friendly rather than fatherly relationship with him and hoped Abhishek would imbibe the lessons of life from his experiences.

“When I had a son, I decided I would be a friend to him rather than a father. I regularly speak to him about my experiences as an artist and I hope he incorporates them in his life. In my eyes he has remained a balanced and down to earth person.” “However, both myself and Jaya have never attempted to professionally promote him though we even have the wherewithal to produce a film, lest he comes in for unnecessary criticism or loses his confidence,” Bachchan said.

Asked about his guiding force Bachchan said he always admired Dilip Kumar and Vahida Rehman. “I was impressed by Gurudutt, ‘Kagaj Ke Phool’ was my best choice. Every generation actor of past like Rajendra Kumar, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, in directors’ category Khawaja Ahmed Abass, Manmohan Desai and Ramesh Sippi, Saleem Javed Tinu Anand of ‘Agnipath’ Adi Chopra, Karan Johar”.

Young artists and directors were coming up with new dreams and plans, he said, adding they were not in any way ‘less than Raj Kapoor and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’.

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