The Nelson Mandela Foundation has appointed Amitabh Bachchan as a 46664 Special Ambassador of India, to lead a worldwide campaign against AIDS.
Mandela Foundation Chief Executive John Samuel announced the appointment on December 1, World AIDS Day, at the 35th International Film Festival of India, which is currently on in Goa.
Amitabh is the Foundation's first ambassador in the Asian subcontinent. Former South African President Nelson Mandela took up his Robben Island prison identification number, 46664, to name the anti-AIDS project.
"AIDS is a threat to humanity and I have taken it up as a social cause to make people aware through the media, campaigns and events," said Amitabh.
He expects celebrities to join the fight against AIDS, like they did with the polio immunisation campaign.
Amitabh was full of praise for the Zulu language film anti-AIDS film Yesterday, produced by Anant Singh and directed by Darrel James Roodt, which was screened at IFFI on December 1. "The best part of the movie is that it does not preach but subtly passes on the message the viewer also gets involved in a love story," he said.
Amitabh has acted in an anti-AIDS promo produced by Smita Thackeray. "My son [Abhishek] has also acted in a film, Phir Milenge, that revolves around AIDS," the Big B pointed out.
He was defensive when asked in what way, as an ambassador, he would control the depiction of sex and sexual relations in Indian films, since illicit sexual relation is a prime factor in spreading AIDS.
"It is up to the government and the censor board to formulate guidelines to stop vulgarity in Indian cinema. Ultimately, it is up to the people what to accept and what to reject," he said.
Photograph: Rajtilak Naik