The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rebel Deewar to K3G at 60
- Bachchan extols family values at birthday spectacle

Mumbai, Oct. 11: If there is little youth left in him, there is even less anger.

It could be one long sequence straight out of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, not Deewar. Amitabh Bachchan turned 60 today, amid emotion, tears, family values, samdhis (in-laws) and designer wear.

Amitabh walked into a crowded news conference, carrying Agastya, daughter Shweta’s toddler son. Wife Jaya, in what looked like an Abu Jani creation, followed with Shweta’s daughter, Navya Naveli. Son Abhishek joined them, too, and they all settled down to a perfect photo frame.

It has been a long journey for Amitabh, the angry young man of three decades ago. Bollywood’s greatest icon did not spare a single opportunity today to wax eloquent on values that are firmly K3G.

As Jaya released her coffee table book on Amitabh, To Be Or Not To Be, published by her, edited by journalist-director Khaled Mohamed and priced at Rs 2,950, Amitabh turned the doting husband.

To Be Or Not To Be — it’s not only a pun, but also a reference to Amitabh’s indecisive nature, Mohamed says — has loving anecdotal pieces written by Abhishek, Shweta and son-in-law Nikhil on Amitabh, the big daddy, and is obviously nothing like what it would be if it were an unauthorised biography.

“I have been asked a number of times what it means to be 60. I have found the right answer now. It’s wonderful to be 60 and to have a book written about you by your wife,” said the actor, who was wearing a black suit, a pink shirt and a purple tie.

Introducing his close friend, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, as his “younger brother”, Bachchan choked with emotion when he came to talk about their special relationship. “If (the media) can’t understand the emotion that exists between me and him, they don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘emotion’,” said the actor after a dramatic pause, with tears in his eyes.

Did someone say Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham again'

He asked Karisma Kapoor to join the family on the podium, introducing her as his would-be daughter-in-law. Asked if he has any dream, Amitabh said: “I dream for my family to be together.”

Every “samdhi”, current and would-be — industrialist Rajan and Ritu Nanda, son-in-law Nikhil Nanda, Karisma’s parents, former actors Randheer Kapoor and Babita — were called for a family photograph. In the evening, a private party will be hosted by family and friends in Amitabh’s honour.

This morning, the actor had returned from another good karma. He, with family (including Karisma) and friends (industrialist Anil Ambani), had been to Tirupati for the occasion to take the holy dip and still looked a little tired, though he kept his famous smile firmly in place.

After Devdas and Raaz, Amitabh’s birthday can qualify as the biggest Bollywood event this year. Crowds thronged both the houses owned by the actor in Juhu, Mansa and Prateeksha. In the morning, he met his fans. The fan club from Calcutta, which had angered the actor by erecting a temple in his honour but has been forgiven now, also met him and gave him a statue.

The media has been unsparing in their coverage of the birthday. It started a week ago, but today a leading English daily brought out a special Amitabh supplement.

Other papers, too, splashed their columns generously with birthday trivia. The Sahara India Pariwar carried a full page ad of Amitabh, who is on the company board.

One newspaper has even predicted Amitabh’s future. “Like other famous Librans, James Bond star Roger Moore and Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, he is guaranteed a long run in his career,” says a stargazer.

Living legends don’t age, even if they turn 60. They just turn different maybe.

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