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Wednesday, Dec 01, 2021
Outlook.com
opinion

Tavern Of The Soul: A Son Tiptoes In

Amitabh took a Paris audience on a celebration of his father’s Madhushala

Tavern Of The Soul: A Son Tiptoes In
Tavern Of The Soul: A Son Tiptoes In
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Sometimes a single event tells you everything about a person, and so it was, earlier this summer. Amitabh Bachchan recited his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poetry at the Theatre des Champs-élysées, in Paris. Correction, he not only recited, he sang, he translated and told stories that set up the context of the poems. It is important to discern that he was not grandiose, not pompous and not contemptuous of the doubtful comprehension of the audience. He thought nothing of breaking a poem’s rhythm (sacrilege, I think) to translate it into English, with unselfconscious ease. He was clearly there to communicate, not to join ranks with connoisseurs to affirm his compatibility with them. Amitabh kept it simple. It was a simplicity that begs a hermeneutic process, because it is devoid of oversight with an abundance of circumspection. True art says the unsaid, and touches a tiny nerve that has been pinching in your subconscious. It takes the mundane, strips away cliche concepts and turns it into something extraordinary, making you wonder: how did I miss this? Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poetry is that.

On the morning of his performance, on June 13, Amitabh was sharing a table with his wife, Jaya, and two ladies who were probably helping organise the show. He was wearing grey sweatpants and a sweatshirt, perhaps with sneakers. One of these ladies asked Amitabh, “What are you wearing for the performance?” Possibly bristling at the patronising question, the great actor answered, “I will go in what I am wearing now.” His wife Jaya chimed in, deadpan, “Yes, he will wear what he is in now.” That evening, as the show opened to applause, Amitabh walked on to the stage in an irreproachable black, knee-length achkan, and cream, softly-creased, well, it’s hard to call it a salwar or churidar pyjama or trousers. It could best be described as what Armani would do, if he were to make a pyjama/salwar. Why mention this? His attention to detail.

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