Doting father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan feels 'bahurani' Aishwarya Rai, a celebrity in her own right, fits perfectly in Bollywood's most glamorous household.
'In Uttar Pradesh, the daughter-in-law is addressed as 'bahurani'. In our house, that is how we address Aishwarya Rai. It is a most endearing expression and completely fulfilling in describing her presence in our home,' the Big B told IANS in an interview.
The aging superstar cannot stop raving about his daughter-in-law's performance in Ashutosh Gowariker's period romance 'Jodhaa-Akbar'. 'I have often used the word 'ethereal' in some of my interviews earlier to describe a special moment or a person. For Aishwarya in J-A, I'd want to use that again for I lack the knowledge of finding an adequate substitute.'
The star of the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties derived his strength from his family, especially his parents. 'Yes, our parents have been our life and strength. They shall remain with us... I think of them and remember them every step of my day,' the actor said.
Q: What did you think of Aishwarya in 'Jodhaa-Akbar', and of the film?
A:I have often used the word 'ethereal' in some of my interviews earlier, not in this context, but to describe a special moment or a person. For Aishwarya in 'Jodhaa-Akbar', I'd want to use that again for I lack the knowledge of finding an adequate substitute.
'Belonging to the heavens' or 'from the celestial sphere' would sound too mushy and too much like a doting father-in-law. But it would be pretty close to it. The movie was grand, large, symbolic and pertinent. It was full of moments of immense uplifting aesthetic beauty. But the one moment that almost made me stand up and scream my appreciation in the theatre was that brilliant sequence in the qawwali 'Khwaja, mere Khwaja', when Akbar, hit by an almost other-world connection, gets up and joins the Sufi singers trancelike, moving in servile submission.
This great emperor, this ruler of the land, one with the common man, is succumbing to that unknown force, which no human has ever been able to decipher. Ahh...! I get goose bumps. I have not felt like that since that historic moment in the movie '2001- Space Odessey' when the ape-man in prehistoric times discovers a bone and accidentally finds its use as a weapon to destroy another and in the excitement of his discovery flings it in the air. The bone is caught in slow motion as it moves in the atmosphere and... cut to ... a futuristic space station, moving equally, in high speed, to the strains of Johann Strauss's 'Blue Danube'. Brilliant !!
Q: Aishwarya has blended beautifully into the Bachchan portrait. What are your thoughts about your 'bahu' a year after the wedding?
A: In Uttar Pradesh, the daughter-in-law in the house is addressed as 'bahurani'. In our house, that is how we address Aishwarya. It is a most endearing expression and completely fulfilling in describing her presence in our home. What other thoughts do you expect me to have after what I have told you. All other niceties remain in the private and personal domain. I do not see any necessity for it to be announced publicly.
Q: A school named after Aishwarya is going to be built in Uttar Pradesh? How would you contribute to this noble endeavour?
A: A promise to the people of the region was made a year ago. We kept our promise and have laid the foundation stone for the school. It will now be built and become operational. I will be involved in funding the construction and will be part of the administration through a trust.
Q: Amitji, you've always been very family-oriented. May I ask in what ways would you like to honour your mother's memory?
A: These are too personal to be discussed publicly. Our parents are our life, our existence and our strength. They shall remain with us. No matter what we do to honour them, we shall never be able to even go near or match the love and guidance they give us so selflessly and so unstintingly throughout their lives. I think of them and remember them at every step. This is all that they would probably have expected from their progeny, nothing more.
Q: You've decided to sponsor two adandoned girls in Patna. How did you come to know about them? Among all the causes that besiege our society, does the plight of the girl child trouble you in special way?
A: I came to know their plight through the electronic media and volunteered to help. I had helped girls earlier too like treating a young girl, who needed surgical intervention and her parents were too poor to afford the cost. For the two cute little girls from Patna, it was the lost and frightened look on their faces that moved me. We managed to find their mother, who we discovered was a hapless victim of a sad and ugly incident and gave her money to care for the education of the little girls till as long as they wanted to study.
There is a proposal that when the school in Barabanki comes up, we will give the mother a job there. The plight of the girl child is a universal issue and quite predominant in our part of the world. As an ambassador for the United Nations and having worked for the eradication of polio and other diseases in our country, this activity will be an extension of what the UN and the UNICEF are charting out for me.
Q: Finally, the family prepares for the world concert this year. What are your thoughts on the impending world tour and the prospect of dancing with your son and 'bahu'?
A: Yes, the tour preparations are on... We go in July-August to Europe and then to US. I have often danced with my son and 'bahu'. It's being together on a common platform that is more important.
Q: Lately, you've been pretty much doing your own thing, unfazed by the swirling circle of speculation and controversies. Was that a conscious decision?
A: 'Deep end'? That sounds disparaging! 'Swirling circle of speculation and controversies' are built by the media. I do not see any reason to react to them or allow them to influence my decisions.
Q; How affected were you and your family by the charge that you have done more for Uttar Pradesh than for Mumbai?
A: This is a free country and every man enjoys the liberty of free speech. The law of the land and its Constitution is supreme. Every Indian should be affected by it. Random charges are random. They do not deserve the kind of attention you want me to give to them.
Q: How were your schedules affected by the personal tragedy, the loss of your mom? Did you have to make up for lost time?
A: My schedules were not affected. My producers have all been extremely understanding and accommodating. There has been no loss of time.
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