While Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan did not attend the closing ceremony of the All-India Marathi Literary Meet here on Sunday, actor Amitabh Bachchan kept his date with Pune, enthralling the audience with recitation of his father's poems.
Mr. Bachchan recollected that the first translation of his father Harivanshrai Bachchan's epic poem, “Madhushala,” in an Indian language took place in Marathi. “He was very proud of that,” said Mr. Bachchan.
“I have spent 41 out of the 68 years of my existence in Maharashtra,” he said. “I am grateful to this State because it has made me what I am today. This State gave me fame, a house, a wife ... and also a share of opposition and criticism, which are equally important in life.” The actor congratulated the State as it was about to complete 50 years shortly. The contribution of Marathi and Maharashtra to the world of literature was immense. Mr. Bachchan remembered poet and Jnanpith awardee Vinda Karandikar as a “strong pillar of literature.” He also read out two Marathi poems that expressed pride and privilege that one was a Maharashtrian and a speaker of the Marathi language.
Mr. Bachchan relived his bond with the city of Pune. “Not many know this,” he said, “but it was in Pune that I had decided to marry Jaya.” He described Pune as a city that had been the centre of literature, art and culture for many years and hoped that it would continue to remain so for many more years to come.
The actor then read out his father's poems in the manners of the late poet as the audience, which tumbled out of the mandap in thousands, listened in rapt attention and clapped thunderously.
On the demand of a section of the audience, Mr. Bachchan also read out “Agnipath”. “It was written during the freedom struggle,” he said, “but like all great poems, its relevance is constantly reinvented with time.”
He said “Madhushala” was also one such poem that, though composed in 1935, lived on in the hearts of people even today. “Some people had condemned my father for writing a poem about alcohol,” he said. “He read it out once to Mahatma Gandhi, who didn't find anything wrong with it. My father never consumed alcohol, though it is difficult to believe the composer of the poem was a non-drinker. In fact, the poem was about the sheer intoxication of life ... of poetry.”