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Editor's Diary
Editor’s DIARY
FSJ December, 2012

Those who watched only the red carpet arrivals at Jaya Bachchan’s mother of all bashes missed what she had put together to ring in Amitabh’s 70th birthday which was spread over three capacious areas.

Reaching out to and inviting every single person of all possible hues that Amitabh had interacted with through the years, Jaya Bachchan’s painstakingly organised event was ultimately not a party but a project.

“Did you catch the show?” asked the birthday boy solicitously, making time for each of the 1000-plus guests. The Bachchans, renowned for their punctuality, had printed a line on the invitation cards that the performance would start on time.

“Many missed it because of the traffic for which we truly apologise,” said Amitabh, “but we’ll perform for you again. Let’s all eat a little dinner first and then we’ll do the show again.”

Dinner was eaten while listening to Yash Chopra, Anil Ambani and Javed Akhtar speaking on AB. Well past midnight, the 70-year-old paced the floor tirelessly in the spacious theatre next door, as Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, Hema Malini, Suniel Shetty, Simi Garewal and others who had missed the performance trooped in.

A total professional at any hour, Amitabh was at his flawless best as he spoke eloquently about his father, Dr Harivanshrai Bachchan’s Madhushala. The baritone had pre-recorded the verses specially for this evening with a little bit of musical help from close friend Aadesh Srivastava. But, said Amitabh with unbridled admiration, his father had recited it for the first time at a kavi sammelan without any such aids, all by himself, all night through, “all 135 verses of it which he knew by heart.”

And thus unfolded the exquisite dance drama with players coming in from all directions, an overwhelming combination of dance, music and theatre, as Madhushala played in the background, culminating with Amitabh taking centrestage for the finale. There was, very thoughtfully, a copy of Madhushala on every seat, with an English translation too, to take back home. I unabashedly got mine autographed by Amitabh himself!

Anyone who thinks Jaya is the stern mother figure she seems in her photographs, should have seen her, full of spunk and spirit even at 2.30 am, pushing guests back to the floor asking, ‘What’s the rush? You don’t have to go back home so early.’ She herself was all over the floor with friends and family.

Through all their ups and downs, Jaya’s personality and identity have not been knocked down by Amitabh’s staggering stardom. There is a super picture of Amitabh and Jaya looking at each other on Page 9 here. There may be a foot-length distance between their heads but the moment shared by them encapsulates what this couple is all about.

In totally different ways, many couples there showed a heartwarming maturity in their relationships. Sanjay Dutt amiably reached out to Dr Shreeram Nene with a chatty Madhuri joining them. Soon Sanju introduced Maanyata to both of them and it was wonderful that all of them had left behind the days when Dutt’s heart went dhak dhak over Ms Dixit.

Imagine a formal speech at a black tie event starting off with, “Good evening ladies and gent…aalimaaooo, I love you too.” Precisely what happened when a loudly protesting Aaradhya Bachchan spotted her mom on stage but couldn’t go up and stay in her arms. Husband Abhishek promptly jumped up and took the one-year-old out of the room in a trice.

This is another form of maturity that’s seen exclusively in the Bachchan fold. When Aishwarya was honoured by the French government at a formal but cosy function, her entire family was there to share her big moment. Aaradhya could be there too only because, as Aishwarya said in her speech, her dearest husband (“The love of my life”) promised to take care of the baby in the front row. This couple, endearingly, has no maids hovering around; they take care of their infant like normal parents do.

Can you picture a chauvinistic Dharmendra or Shatrughan Sinha or even today’s Shah Rukh Khan playing nanny to the baby while his wife is in the spotlight, without seriously fearing that his masculinity would suffer a dent?
For being the man he is, Abhi is truly Daddy No 1.

Bharathi S Pradhan
Editor, The Film Street Journal

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