March 31, 2020
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Amitabh Bachchan

The metamorphosis from actor to kisan came courtesy Mayawati and not Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Amitabh Bachchan
Illustration by Sorit
Amitabh Bachchan

It’s done. Finally, we Bachchans—Jaya, Abhishek and I—are officially farmers. And to think the metamorphosis from actor to kisan came courtesy Mayawati and not Mulayam Singh Yadav. The UP state seed corporation registered us as farmers last fortnight after we bought 14.5 hectares of farmland at Kakori, some 23 km outside Lucknow. It was a momentous occasion and we celebrated with Cadbury’s chocolate. Boy, am I proud of my Uttar Pradesh and Mayawatiji! Incidentally, my daughter-in-law Aishwarya (who has a Brit accent which she carefully cultivated on a two-acre plot in Mangalore) was equally excited. “A farmer at home is worth 10 in the field,” she exclaimed while we sat down for a family dinner. Abhishek is also very pleased that he has been accorded farmer status although at our Juhu bungalow the only farming you can do is water the lawn.

But, that aside, the Bachchan love for the plough is historic. In fact, when the renowned Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang passed through Allahabad in 630 AD he called on one of my ancestors, referred to as Shrivastava (that incidentally was our family surname till my father started writing poetry under the pen name Bachchan) in the travel diary. “This gentleman Shrivastava took me to the fields near his home and showed me the standing crop ready for harvesting. I was most impressed by his industry and his ability to laugh on C-major.” Thus wrote Hiuen Tsang but unfortunately that part of his diary was expunged during the height of the cultural revolution in 1967. So, I am afraid, proof of that slice of history no longer exists.

Anyway, to cut to the present, let me share with you what we intend to do with my newly acquired plot in Kakori. Well, Abhishek somehow managed to access a recent study done by the University of Saskatchewan. It has come up with the startling revelation that George Orwell didn’t actually write Animal Farm. He merely planted a copy of Das Kapital in a field outside London and then nurtured and watered it like any kisan would. Lo and behold! Marx’s work flowered into an entirely new book. “If Orwell could do it, why can’t we do the same thing with some of our successful storylines?” Abhishek wondered. Well, I was quick to realise he had a point. So, I got busy collecting the scripts of my old hits—Zanjeer, Deewar, Sholay. And I hope to fly down soon to Lucknow and catch the sowing for the kharif crop in time.

Aishwarya, given her ritual appearances at Cannes, had one small request. Could I get the script of Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby translated into Hindi? “You please plant that too. If we are lucky, we might harvest something  of international standard,” she pleaded. Well, I am happy to report that Polanski has already been rendered into Hindi (title: Rose Meri Beti). However, the lyrics (inspired by the Beatles hit Norwegian Wood) have not progressed beyond the first two lines—“I once had a kudi/Or should I say the kudi once had me....”

(As imagined by Ajith Pillai)

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