Prannoy Roy

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Prannoy Roy

Here’s my exclusive interview with Amitabh Bachchan. Big B says he's perplexed by the recent political controversies that have him at their center. Here’s the full transcript of the interview.

Prannoy : Well Amitabh thank you very much for taking out so much time for this, and you responded so quickly to our request of "Save the Tiger" it must have struck a chord with you?

Amitabh: I just feel that it was a very noble cause Prannoy, something that is national, something that was good for the environment and as i was saying at the press conference the medium the electronic medium as well as the mobile are very very powerful forms of communication and for them to come together just enhances the campaign. If i am in the status of a celebrity and if my face and voice is liked and loved by my fans then it makes a lot of difference. As i was saying earlier that we endorse products whether it is a soap or suiting or whatever it is. If it makes a difference then why not something that is a lot more worthwhile for the nation or for the environment.

Prannoy: So you are the Tiger fighting for Tigers! Coming to other aspects of your life. Wherever you go , whatever you do there is controversy. I must say that i was listening to Google's head recently and google's of course hugely successful and there were a lot of hostile questions. So at the end of the questions he just said one thing...that your questions just define success. So if you are criticized in whatever you do somebody will look at it and criticizes it, that’s success. Do you look at it that way?

Amitabh: Now that you say it I will start looking at it that way just to console myself. It does hurt when you go with a very clear conscience and very pure heart and you want to do something which is constructive and you find criticism. But I think when you are a public figure it is to be expected whether i am trying to be a Brand Ambassador for a particular state or whether I am trying to be a brand ambassador for a cause there will always be questions.

Prannoy: These three recent incidents again if you look at them, explain each one:-

Gujarat- you know about the criticism, what’s your answer?

Amitabh: I am non-political. I was in politics and i left it because i was not qualified for it.

Prannoy: You were a terrible politician? Do you agree to that?

Amitabh: I accept the fact that i was a failure and that’s fine. Having accepted that I left it and now I am completely apolitical. I have not taken part in any kind of political activities ever since I left politics. Neither have i made any political statement. I left politics in '86 or '87. I was approached by the government of Gujarat to become their brand ambassador for tourism. I was there because i wanted tax-exemption for my film 'Paa'. These decisions are taken by the constitutional head of the state who happens to be "Mr. Narendra Modi'. I sought an appointment, went to him as he wanted to see the film and showed it to the rest of the bureaucrats. He also mentioned while i was with him that why don’t you bring some of your shooting to our state, where tourists are lacking, as we have so much to offer

Prannoy: In no way you, what you are doing, endorses anything that has been done in the state?

Amitabh: No, that is political and governmental. I am merely doing, i am talking about a part of my land. i am asking people to come and visit because it is a beautiful place. If people are going to look at it as something controversial than i feel sorry about that. The same is happening in Kerala. I was in Kerala to celebrate Resul Pokkutty who won the oscar for sound in Slumdog Millionare and having worked with him in several films. He wanted me to come because he was being decorated by a local TV station and the Malyalam manorama and I went there and during the course of an interview they asked that you just endorsed Gujarat so why don’t you endorse Kerala?

Prannoy: It was Kerala Tourism again?

Amitabh: Yeah

Prannoy: i think the words have to be chosen carefully as its endorse Gujarat tourism and Kerala Tourism?

Amitabh: Of course, nothing else and it’s just tourism. So I’ll leave that decision to the government. The point is that all kind of insinuations come across. These endorsements are very voluntary without any kind of consideration for cash. I do these free of cost.

Prannoy: Tell me this latest thing about Sea-link? What exactly happened?

Amitabh: The minister in-charge of PWD wrote a letter to me saying that they are opening the other four lanes of the sea-link and i said fine, i'll come and i went there. It was supposed to be a very happy occasion.

Prannoy: Then a storm?

Amitabh: Well I don’t know what it was all about i just read about it in the press.

Prannoy: But you have actually written quite strongly on your blog and i tend to agree with most of what you said on your blog about this latest incident and many others.

Amitabh: Yeah, You know the insinuations are that you are promoting Gujarat which has Narendra Modi as a minister and his acts or deeds or whatever it is and therefore you should not be going there. But then stop Mr. Mukesh Ambani from putting his reliance factory there or why didn’t you take up Ratan Tata or his projects there or everybody who goes and does business with them. Stop them also. Why are you asking me? I am not going to get political there, i am not endorsing the BJP government or Mr. Narendra Modi or trying to say that this is Mr. Narendra Modi's personal fiefdom. No, this is Gujarat and its part of my land. I am a citizen of this country and i have the right to propagate my land.

Prannoy: If you had to meet somebody, the person who invited you yesterday. What will you say to him after this controversy?

Amitabh: I will laugh about it. I am not interested in politics and I don’t know what the reasons are for them to be talking on it.

Prannoy: Coming back to the tiger, Thank you very much once again.

Amitabh : Not at all

Prannoy: For all the work you have done it is just legendary

Amitabh : I am wearing your t-shirt.

Prannoy: Tiger Bachchan thank you very much

Amitabh : Anytime. 10 years ago

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