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Amitabh Bachchan inaugurates photo exhibition that celebrates his 75th birthday

In his speech, a grateful Bachchan directed his respect towards the exhibition’s curators, photojournalist Pradeep Chandra and film historian SMM Ausaja, for cultivating and encouraging the documentation of film history.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Sonal Pandya

An exclusive preview of a photo exhibition dedicated to actor Amitabh Bachchan was held on Wednesday (9 May) at The St. Regis Hotel in Lower Parel, Mumbai. The thespian turned 75 last year on 11 October and photojournalist Pradeep Chandra and film historian SMM Ausaja commemorated his platinum year with a special display of photographs, artwork, posters and more, curated by them.

Bachchan stopped by to inaugurate the preview which was attended by poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar, filmmaker Subhash Ghai, actor Sachin Khedekar, theatre personality Poonam Mahajan and many others.

The one-of-a-kind exhibition features 75 different items celebrating Bachchan’s life and career. Fans of the actor can find everything — film posters, digital artworks, drawings, paintings, candid photographs, portfolio images, magazine covers, political posters and much, much more.

Walking through the exhibition, one noticed there were few photos of Bachchan’s personal life too. Only a handful of photographs of his wife, Jaya, and children, Shweta and Abhishek, were available. Instead, there were more striking photographs and dedications to the actor and his onscreen image  –  with the various iconic characters he has played from Don (1978) to Coolie (1983).

As the exhibition centres around Bachchan, only a few photographs feature other personalities like his acting hero Dilip Kumar and current prime minister Narendra Modi.

Afterwards, at a press conference, Ausaja and Chandra talked about the process of putting together the exhibition in the honour of Bachchan turning 75.

From 10 May, the exhibition will be available for public view at Subhash Ghai's Whistling Woods International Institute.

“I’m extremely humbled that this opportunity has come our way. We did the best we could in the last three months. I think the more hard we work on him, the less it is. There is so much on him to be archived, to be documented and to be presented for future generations. It’s an uphill task,” Ausaja said, thanking Bachchan for attending the event. Ausaja also thanked Ghai for making the exhibition available to the public.

“I’m really grateful that [Bachchan] has come to see our work. I have known him for 50 years, though he has known me for 25 years. When he was shooting for Reshma Aur Shera (1971), at that time I was working for Raj Khosla for Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), so we almost started our career at the same time,” Chandra said of photographing the actor for much of his career.

Filmmaker Ghai, who will be hosting the exhibition for 10 days at his film institute, thanked Ausaja and Chandra for curating the exhibition and said, “On behalf of my company, I feel extremely honoured to be a part of this great movement.”

Speaking about Bachchan’s career in Indian cinema, Ghai remembered the veteran actor’s first film Saat Hindustani (1969) and called it the beginning of a new era in Hindi films. He was happy that everyone could get to share Bachchan’s journey through this exhibition.

“He was playing one of the seven characters, but he was noticed in this industry within five days. There was a furor that one actor has arrived. He doesn’t know, but I know about it,” Ghai said. “The man doesn’t know anything except achieving excellence at every step. His lessons to the younger generation of actors [are] to be disciplined and dedicated. It’s easy to be a legend, but to achieve excellence with discipline and then become a legend is extremely difficult.”

Amitabh Bachchan's platinum year to be honoured with photo exhibition: See exclusive photos

Amitabh Bachchan, the focus of the exhibition, said he was uncomfortable with all the praise directed towards him. The actor directed his respect towards the exhibition’s curators for cultivating and encouraging documentation of film history.

“In our film industry, which is the largest in the world, there is no proposal till now for documentation of old films and photographs, of how they were made, of the times and the people. There are many [old] films, which you will be amazed and horrified to know, are lying in garbage and there is no one to take care of them,” Bachchan said.

He thanked them both for their interest and said this is what the forthcoming generation will remember. “There needs to be reference point and they have proved it today. It is an embarassing moment for me, but I would like such an exhibition for the whole film industry. If you do, I will definitely come, if you want as a chief guest. It would be a matter of pride for me, if I could learn and see more about our film industry and take it forward,” Bachchan said.

The actor joked that he would have liked to take all of the items in the exhibition home with him, but added that he feared his family would get worried about having so many photographs in the house.