October 17, 2002 
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'I had no hand in the media coverage'
Amitabh Bachchan gets defensive about his birthday bash

Subhash K Jha

Six days after his high-profile birthday, India's icon Amitabh Bachchan is hurt and bewildered by a section of the press accusing him and his friends of masterminding the media blitzkrieg on October 11.

Just back in Mumbai from Delhi after attending daughter Shweta's father-in-law Rajan Nanda's 60th birthday party, Amitabh Bachchan's habitually imperturbable eyes are troubled with questions. "What the media did was certainly not decided by me or my so-called powerful friends. It was done due to the media's love and affection for me. I am a public figure. I can't stop the media or any other institution from doing what they like. If they chose to follow me on October 11 right from the moment I woke up, I couldn't stop them. It is totally wrong to assume that my friends or I had any hand in the media coverage."

Elaborating further, the Big B says one news channel took official permission from his wife Jaya to trail the star on his birthday for 24 hours. He speaks about the pictorial biography To Be Or Not To Be which Jaya put together for her husband's 60th birthday. "I think it is a wonderful labour of love. So elegant, beautiful and voluminous! I am overhwhelmed by what Jaya has done for me and what she, my son Abhishek, Shweta and my son-in-law Nikhil have written about me. Their words bring tears to my eyes. I am happy I have touched their lives in some way and that they have acknowledged my presence in their lives. I am glad I agreed to let them do this book. I am usually very reluctant about books on me."

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Refuting the belief that Abhishek's engagement with Karisma Kapoor was to be formally announced at his birthday bash, the Big says, "Why would I want it, when I have never been in favour of public ceremonies? I didn't even make my daughter's wedding a public affair. We celebrated my 60th birthday privately. That is what we will probably do when Abhishek and Karisma get together. But Abhishek has proposed to Lolo; she accepted. For me that is enough. She is as good as my bahu. Formalities have never mattered to me. When I decided to marry Jaya, I just woke up one morning, informed my parents and hers, and we got together for a small ceremony."


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