You know what?? I think not! Amitabh's fears are for real. You know why?? I received a strange request from the editor of a daily that is not doing all that great. I was specifically asked whether I'd like to do a 'hatchet job' on Amitabh. I was totally taken aback! This is the first time in my long career that someone has had the audacity to make such a preposterous request. I said, " Why don't you do it yourself? Why are you asking me to perform your dirty job?" This was because I needed to get to the bottom of this nasty plot. The person admitted candidly that it would serve no purpose writing the piece since his\her opinion doesn't count! But, added the editor smoothly ".....if it comes from you, people will believe it." Flattery at its most dangerous! What a waste on me, though. Of course, I told the person to go to hell .... but it made me think about Amitabh's anguished response to the deliberate slights and snubs he and his family have been at the receiving end of recently. This isn't cricket. It isn't even hockey. So, what is it? How about a 'conspiracy'?
Consider this : All the attacks have been emanating from the same camp. It is obvious from the key players involved that there is a strategy at work. While I do find it bizarre that Amitabh should dole out his 'ambassadorships' so generously and randomely - I will not challenge his right to do so.
Gujarat today, Kerala tomorrow, maybe Mizoram day after. So what? If those state governments believe he has the power to project them favourably, that's their prerogative. As it is his - to take up the offer or not. Someone else in his position may be more selective, far more discriminating ( credibility counts, too, doesn't it?) but then again, it's his call. What cannot be disputed is the fact that someone's out to get the guy. And get him good. But why??? Ahaaa - now that's the interesting question. Those in the forefront of the battle are merely the foot soldiers. The main players remain behind the scene. Is it another repeat of the old 'raja aur rankh' story? What has gone wrong and who is instigating these attacks?
At a dinner party last night, a couple of canape intellectuals said they wouldn't be at all surprised if Amitabh too is chased out of our country ( like M.F.Husain) and forced to accept the citizenship of another. I don't see that happening. But what I do see, is not pleasant. It is Amitabh today. It could be someone else tomorrow. Should we become silent witnesses to this new, covert form of terrorism ?
Civil society must speak up. Not necessarily for Amitabh Bachchan. But for itself. Survival ka sawaal hai.