The Amitabh I Know…

While fans in India and the world over celebrated the iconic Bachchan’s seventieth birthday on October 11, in Goa, one of his greatest and sweetest fans, of all time, Zarine Khan recalled her ‘Amitabh’ story for NT Zest Buzz Weekender…

Where do I begin to tell a story …that began four decades ago between a star-struck teenager and a huge star, who decided to step down from his podium to befriend a Goan girl, me.

I never forget to thank the good Dr Bhatkule, who on the location shoot of Khabhi Khabhi, took me along to the Bicholim mining area where Amit was, in a jeep in the midst of an action sequence.

The first time I saw him live.

He observed the devotion I suppose. He came over and whispered in his famous baritone, "Don’t breathe so hard, the canopy umbrella will fall," and thus broke the ice of awe, fear and disbelief.

Forty years of happy memories with so many unbelievable moments. I was lucky to befriend this thorough gentleman, yes, extremely gentle, kind, warm, affectionate, caring, concerned, helpful, loving super human Amit. And for every adjective I have used I can produce evidence in writing or photographs that speak louder than words. Every adjective and photo would have a 3-page narration of sheer awesome, heart-warming, unforgettable experiences.

THE JOURNEY

Decade 1 and I was just a screaming fan, popping up at various locations. Later he would kind of expect to see me or hear me in the crowd and make arrangements to get me inside the cordon.

Decade 2, I was allowed to visit his home, was introduced to his office staff and what a welcome that used to be.

Decade 3 was the email era, when Amit became my guide and mentor, sharing news, views, sometimes a firing mail when I floundered or even a rebuking SMS in verse, which was so funny… that is decade 4.

I have such beautiful letters, some landmarks like the condolence letter after my father’s death. His call on the day of the funeral was most consoling. Today, he blogs and twitters, so it is mostly SMSs that fly back and forth.

 

EVERGREEN HERO…

Amit has the speed of a 16-year-old when it comes to all the latest gadgets and technologies and even when he calls his lingo and baritone change, his voice is so youthful that I have to ask, ‘Is it really you Amit, even after all these years?’

…WHO IS EVER SO CARING

Recently, I went to wish the little new arrival in his family. I had made an appointment for the morning of August 7. Somehow he was late and I was caught in a traffic jam in Mumbai. I had a train to catch that evening.

Would you believe it! He made me cancel the train and put me and my maid on the flight to Goa the next day, just because my work schedule in Bombay, for which I had gone, got delayed and I got to meet him several hours late! This is the caring Amit I know…I have countless such stories to tell.

MORE THAN A FRIEND, A GENTLEMAN

I am so proud and grateful to have him as a very special dear friend. His speed in rushing to my rescue during any calamity big or small, financial or otherwise is touching.

The cherry on the icing came as a pleasant surprise when in October 2010 he was invited by Keith Vaz to inaugurate the diabetes van in the Honda showroom at Verna. Amitabh started his speech with how much he loves Goa and Goans and then went on to thank me for all ‘the love and devotion’ for about 3 minutes, even asking the crowd to clap and acknowledge me, while he did it too! It was a very touching moment.

That is one video among all that I will cherish forever.

In 1991, he was the guest for an awards ceremony to be held in Panaji and the launch of the periodical Goa Post. I had gate crashed because the organisers would just not allow me in.

As he walked into the hotel with the organisers and cops (he was the Rajya Sabha MP then) he dropped his bag and came towards me with a warm hug. He made me part of his entourage to my delight for the full day and night event. I sat beside him all through. Later a big politician visited his suite with family. The chairs were not enough. I went to pick up an extra chair for the guests, but from nowhere Amit jumped from behind to pick up the same chair… as today Bachi Karkaria in her editorial ‘Bachchanalia’ very rightly says and I quote "On your birthday thank you for your hopelessly outdated gift of civilized behaviour. It makes up for the feet of clay that all the idolised acquire."

Amit will always be my world, my Hero till the stars all burn away…