Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who was here to inaugurate the 18th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) Saturday, established a special connect with the audience as he spoke in Bengali.
"Ami Banglay bolchi asa kori apni bhujte parben (I am speaking in Bengali. Hope you understand)," said the 70-year-old veteran as the crowd roared in applause.
The crowd lapped up every Bengali word that the legendary actor spoke and egged him on.
Big B, who was addressed as "babumoshai" by Rajesh Khanna in their 1971 heartwarming hit "Anand", then switched to English, describing the city as the cultural capital of the country. He said people here have the knack of lifting other's spirits.
"Kolkata will always have a special place in my heart. Every time I came here I was welcomed with such warmth, love and adulation which I never found in any part of the world," said the thespian, who started off his professional career working as an executive in a city firm.
"The people here have the special knack of lifting your spirits. So I always say if you are depressed, come to Kolkata. The people here will lift your spirit," he said, clad in a black bandhgala coat.
He credited industry greats like directors Bimal Roy, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and music director Sachin Dev Burman - all of whom hailed from Bengal - and helped revolutionise Indian films. He also showered lavish praise on Bengali culture and literature and said they have played an important part in shaping Indian films.
Turning to superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who too was present at the event, Amitabh thanked him for promoting Indian cinema globally.
Like he began, he ended his speech too in Bengali, reciting Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's immortal song "Banglar mati banglar jol (Bengal's soil, Bengal's water)" which was created by the bard during the movement against then viceroy Lord Curzon's plans to partition Bengal in 1905.
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