It's election time. Celebrities are being used to urge citizens to come out and vote. But Indian cinema's icon Amitabh Bachchan, for whom publicity has been a way of life, says a democratic right like voting doesn't need to be promoted.
The Bachchan family has always flaunted its election ink-marked nails with pride.
"I don't think voting needs to be promoted. It is a democratic right, and we should do it," the 71-year-old actor, who once won the Lok Sabha election from Allahabad in 1984, told IANS in an interview here.
Amitabh had resigned after three years as an MP. He has kept his distance from politics and remained apolitical ever since.
But in reel life, as a 'bhooth' (ghost) in his forthcoming political satire "Bhoothnath Returns", he contests an 'election' to set things right in a corrupt polity.
The film hits the screens Friday. It really couldn't have been better timed - the country is in the midst of the nine-phase Lok Sabha election, involving an 814 million electorate, with 100 million first-time voters and hundreds of candidates.
"That's purely coincidental," he said of the film, adding that "some of the contents of the film are very pertinent to present times".
"Particularly about electioneering; how people must behave during that time; the importance of voting...In fact, in the film, it has been beautifully structured how voting affects the outcome and if you want things to improve or want to be a good citizen, then you must go out and vote," he added.
Amitabh, who has been entertaining Hindi movie buffs for over four decades, says he is "not politically aware". But he hopes that citizens exercise their right well.
Suited and booted, the suave thespian spoke more about "Bhoothnath Returns", its content and his views on politics.
"I am not a politician. And I don't follow politics very well," he said when asked to comment on who the "sher" (lion) among Indian politicians was.
His movie magnifies the loopholes in the country's political scenario. In Big B's words, it focusses on "some of the faults and obvious things like corruption; people not doing the kind of work they are supposed to do; and taking up responsibility".
"Somewhere I feel it also rings a bell with reality. If it touches a chord somewhere, I am very happy about it," he said of his expectations from the film's underlying message on the need to root corruption out of the system.
A sequel to the 2008 film "Bhootnath", it features Amitabh singing, dancing and entertaining the audience as though he's 17.
'Bbuddah...hoga tera baap', really!
And he won't stop as yet.
"I keep getting work, and once you commit, you have to do it. Till my body is working, I will make it work. When it stops, I will stop working," he said in his inimitable style.
Post "Bhoothnath Returns", he already has multiple shoes to fit into - his debut TV serial, new films, new season of "Kaun Banega Crorepati" and more. How does he manage it all?
Pat came an endearing reply: "Well, there's a lovely thing called a shoehorn - you use it, and off you go!"
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at [email protected])