Big B turns 66

MUMBAI: His father’s poetry and some dry fruits — that is all that Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan wants on his 66th birthday on October 11.

This year, it will be a quiet birthday for Amitabh since his mother Teji Bachchan passed away in December 2007.

He said, “It has not been a year since my mother passed away, so it will be quiet and without celebration. I will remain home and spend time with the family, but meet those that may take the trouble of wishing me.”

Excerpts from the interview

Q: Do you enjoy getting extra attention on your birthday?

A: Attention of any kind embarrasses me. But I respect the attention that comes my way as a result of another year having gone by. The attention given by the family, fans and well-wishers. The poems they write, the banners they make, the flowers they gather. Just such a warm and embracing feeling. So much love. I have never thought myself to be worthy of such attention.

Q: Do you like the thought of an extra candle on your cake? Are you a cake-balloon-candles kind of person?

A: This age-old custom of the cake and candles is a cute gesture, but it has now lost its charm for me. I would prefer a large portion of mevaa (dry fruits), followed by the singing of a wonderful poem written by my father for occasions such as this — Harsh nav, varsh nav, jeevan utkarsh nav. I remember my parents singing it on one of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday’s at the Teen Murti House.

Q: Have you ever had friends and family throw a surprise birthday party for you?

A: Yes. It was in Los Angeles, when I had gone there for treatment and rest after my myasthenia episode. Jaya and a close friend took me for a drive to an almost deserted hotel and suddenly threw the doors open to a massive hall, where almost half the Indian community had assembled to wish me. Oh, It was unbelievable!

Q: What is the earliest memory you have of a birthday?

A: The earliest would be of Allahabad. The common friends, the fancy-dress party, the

food and of course the gifts that we, at that age, always looked forward to.

Q: Did your parents celebrate the birthdays of you and your brother with fanfare?

A: Yes. Whatever was economically possible for them. You must remember my father was a

man of limited means. He always wrote a fresh poem for me on the day and my mother would bring in all the cheer and fanfare.

Q: Which was the most memorable birthday you’ve ever had?

A: One of the most memorable was after my accident in 1982, when my father broke down while reciting the poem he had written for me. A very rare sight...I never saw him moved to tears on any occasion. But October 11, 1982, was a date many felt I would not be alive to witness. The second most memorable birthday was my 60th birthday and the effort that Jaya made. The book she brought out, To B or not to B, and the labour that went into it and the arrangements she made for celebrating the evening with the industry and friends. Overwhelming.

Q: Which is the best birthday gift you’ve ever received?

A: I receive it every birthday - the love and affection of the people of this country. Apart from the love and presence of my family.

Q: What is your one wish on this birthday?

A: Peace, harmony, brotherhood, friendship and trust. And strength from the almighty for all to accomplish this.