Express Adda: Near 70, he still gets mobbed


There was electric anticipation before the start. And warmth, laughter and the glow that comes from sparkling talk during the Express Adda on Friday where cinema's iconic superstar Amitabh Bachchan was in conversation with Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, The Express Group. No, you couldn't call it Bollywood, because Amitabh dislikes the term. As well as that other dreaded word: 'filmi'.

"If I were a filmi guy, I wouldn't be sitting here," he said, to much merriment. By then the chat was well on its way, and the consummate actor and beloved star had the audience eating out of his hand.

'Filmi' he isn't, even if he is the biggest 'filmi guy' that's graced the Adda. When Amitabh is holding forth, the conversation can range easily and knowledgeably and urbanely from politics to the girl child to the impact of television on society to poetry. And, of course, the movies.

Amitabh Bachchan, who will turn 70 in a few days, occupies a pole position in Hindi cinema. His contemporaries have either fallen by the wayside or have given in to the vagaries of ageing. Actors who started much after him are floundering because they haven't bothered to keep pace with trends and technology. Amitabh, on the other hand, is on the top of his game.

He is listening to narrations which put him centrestage. Roles are still being written for him. Younger directors are still queueing up to cast him. His turnaround of a TV channel with the first season of a gameshow is the stuff of legends: now 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' is in its sixth season and on a different channel, but its appeal is only mounting. More than the crores, the fact that the contestant gets the chance to share space with Amitabh, keeps them flocking, and the TRPs skyrocketing. The numbers of his endorsements keep rising. He is an active blogger. He tweets. And now he's on Facebook with a fanpage that's bursting.

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