There are icons for correctness in public life, and then there’s Amitabh Bachchan. He’s the face that can sell anything from cement to chyawanprash because everyone loves and trusts him so much.
The once angry young man, who became the untouchable superstar, then fell flat on his face, and finally emerged the lovable father/grandfather/uncle figure of India. He advises us what to buy, tells us what government schemes are out there, never says anything rude (except to Andrew Flintoff in jest) and is the nation’s most politically correct voice in most scenarios on social media.
But the man has always had his controversies.
Remember the disastrous outing with the Congress in the 1980s? That gradually got buried under a body of work that saw him rise to the top of Bollywood. There was also the ABCL collapse, which he emerged from to build a second innings and reaffirm his status as perhaps the most trustworthy celebrity in the nation.
And now there are the Panama Papers. Face it, the biggest name among the Indians revealed isn’t DLF’s KP Singh, Indiabulls Sameer Gehlaut, or Aishwarya Rai. It’s undoubtedly Amitabh Bachchan.
For one simple reason, he stands to lose the most. While the others risk prosecution, a rap on the wrists and some loss of face, the septugenarian stands to lose all of that, And one more crucial thing: the trust he’s built up over decades.
It might explain his silence on the matter. While the other big names have denied, given lengthy explanations or even justified it, there’s been nothing but an eerie silence from the baritone that most in the nation can identify. No tweet. No blog post. His company didn’t talk about it with Indian Express, who broke the story in India, and their mails reportedly went unanswered.
But don’t expect this to last. The actor, who is exceptionally politically correct, has two options before him.
He could copy his daughter-in-law and outright deny everything. Claim that he never made such investments.