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Bachchan: Pride, Inspiration... and Hope
May, 2005

Alag Alag path batlate sab
Par mein yeh batlata hun –
Raah pakad tu ek chala chal,
Pa jayega Madhushaala.

(I have just one advice for you. Take one decision diligently. Take one path and you will reach your destination.)

True to this excerpt from ‘Madhushaala’ by Hariwansh Rai Bachchan, his son, Amitabh Bachchan, continued actively on his path to become what he is known to be today - the Icon of Indian movie industry, the Actor of the Millennium, and now the Ambassador of Goodwill as appointed by UNICEF.

Big B, both an actor and a singer, has universal recognition. On screen, he is the voice of the don who is capable of stirring emotions in people in spite of what he is, the angry young man who fights injustice, and a generous heart who is ready to reach out to help people in distress and need. Behind the screen, he has become the voice on TV and radio that scolds, rationalizes, and appeals parents to get their children vaccinated against polio.

Earlier this year, the living legend, Amitabh Bachchan, was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by UNICEF to help eradicate polio. According to a survey by WHO, almost 70 percent of the parents who brought their kids to the booths during a polio outbreak in northern India admitted that Amitabh Bachchan has been the motivating force that urged them to get their children immunized against the crippling disease that affects children under five.

Amitabh Bachchan is also the first Asian to be appointed as the 46664 brand ambassador by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to lead a worldwide campaign against AIDS. Other 46664 brand ambassadors include Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Clinton.

Coming to his on-screen contribution for this cause, Amitabh has acted in an anti-aids promo produced by Smita Thackery. His son, Abhishek Bacchan, is following his footsteps both professionally and in life. He has acted in a movie, Phir Milenge, which depicts the mental traumas of an AIDS victim and passes on the message quite ingeniously.

Abhishek Bachchan supports a center ‘Ashray’, meaning shelter, which houses AIDS victims. In February this year, Amitabh, along with Abhishek and daughter Shweta, walked down the ramps in a fund raiser fashion show organized by the designer duo Abu Jani and Sanddep Khosla to support AIDS patients.

An asthma patient himself, Amitabh has also long been supporting anti-asthma campaigns. As a vegetarian, who has been voted a winner in the “Hottest Vegetarian Alive” online poll organized by PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), Amitabh is campaigning for vegetarianism for PETA. His acts of humanity do not stop at this. Recently, when he read about suicide cases of some Andhra Pradesh farmers, who took this drastic step after failing to pay off their loans, he donated Rs. 1.1 million to help them out.

Moved by the plight of Tsunami survivors, Amitabh made a plea to the public to come forward to help such people. He strongly advocated the need of a monitoring agency to ensure that the relief reaches the right people. Bachchan himself contributed around $25K for the cause. Along with Abhishek and Shweta, he also participated in a ramp walk organized by Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla to generate funds for the tsunami victims.

An international celebrity who understands his social responsibility, Amitabh Bachchan says, “I think that if you have a desire to work for society, work for humanity, you should go ahead and do it. Titles are irrelevant, charity needs to be done, not spoken of."

The Bachchan family’s contribution to the society is truly commendable. Khalid Mohamed has aptly named his book as ‘To be or not to be: Amitabh Bachchan’. Definitely, it is ‘To be Amitabh Bachchan’, the superstar whose active participation in such social causes has given us a new perspective to his contributions as a human being - an idol of the masses and not just of Hindi cinema.

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