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Hurt friend to cheery father

Lucknow, Oct. 16: Amitabh Bachchan has slipped back to his inscrutable self.

A day after he added his voice to an uncharacteristic public row between his family and the Nehru-Gandhis, the superstar seemed at ease with the gossip about his son Abhishek's 'romantic liaisons'.

'You are smelling anything about my son's affairs' Did you say anything is cooking between Rani (Mukherjee) and Abhishek' he asked a reporter who wanted to know if marriage between the two was on the cards.

'Mere jankari mein to koi prastab nahin hai (There is no proposal that I know of),' Bachchcan, who is in Varanasi to shoot for Banti aur Babli, said after a pause.

A mischievous smile played on his lips as he looked at Abhishek talking to a co-star a little distance away. 'Lekin, Abhishek ne do din ke Kashi prabash me kuchh khichri pakayi hai to main nahin kah sakta (But if Abhishek has done anything messy emotionally in the two days of his stay in Kashi-Varanasi, then I won't know),' he added.

Abhishek, who ambled over to his father, held his ears in mock apology. 'Nothing, Dad, nothing,' he said. 'Without your blessings, no marriage.'

Bachchan then turned to the waiting scribes and whispered: 'If any such thing happens, you will be taken into confidence. So many names are being linked to him.'

The mood was in sharp contrast to yesterday's when Bachchan spoke on the controversy his wife Jaya Bachchan triggered with her comment that those who brought her husband into politics did not stand by him when he was going through a crisis and the rebuttal it prompted. Rahul Gandhi said the allegations were a bundle of lies.

Bachchan, one of Rajiv Gandhi's closest friends, said he was 'deeply hurt' by statements in the media that described his family as 'liars' but gave the impression that he was keen to set the row at rest.

All that bitterness seemed to have been left behind as the Bollywood icon cracked jokes with reporters.

Bachchan also took a dip in the Ganga and offered prayers at the Viswanath temple. Tilaks on their forehead, father and son entered the temple accompanied by four priests.

'I had a long-time desire to have a bath in the river and offer prayers. I am happy to be able to do this,' he said.

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