Namaste Cinema, a popular film-based show running every Sunday on Zee Cinema channel, reached a major milestone on June 17, 2007, when it completed 100 episodes. Befittingly, the 100th episode was celebrated with the beginning of a five-part interview-based programme on the biggest celebrity of Hindi cinema ? Amitabh Bachchan.
Noted TV anchor Pratibha Advani, who is also the executive producer of Namaste Cinema and managing director of Swayam Infotainment, says, ?I am ecstatic about the fact that my programme has completed a century this week, and still running strong. I am equally overwhelmed by Amitabh Bachchan commemorating the occasion by giving me one of the longest and most engaging interviews on his film career. I have no words to express my gratitude to him for this splendid gesture.?
Namaste Cinema, which is telecast on Zee Cinema on Sundays at 8.30 am and 11.30 pm, is a 30-minute programme that profiles famous achievers of the Hindi film industry ? actors, producers, directors, music composers and lyricists. Some of the celebrities profiled so far are: Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Manoj Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha, Anupam Kher, Anil Kapoor, Prem Chopra, Sanjay Khan, Feroze Khan, Kader Khan, Boman Irani, Madhuri Dixit, B.R. Chopra, Mahesh Bhatt, Subhash Ghai, Madhur Bhandarkar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Amol Palekar, J.P. Dutta, Javed Akhtar, Raju Hirani, Tanuja Chandra, Anu Malik and Kavita Krishnamurthy. The show has also featured several celebrities belonging to the younger generation such as Karan Johar, Sonu Nigam, Kailash Kher and Sunidhi Chauhan.
The celebrity interviews are biographic in nature, interspersed with appropriate film clips. ?My attempt in each episode,? says Pratibha Advani, ?is to reveal to the viewers the person behind the celluloid image. It seeks to bring out little-known aspects of the personality'schildhood, family, initial trials and hardships in the film industry, sources of creative inspiration, and attitude towards life.?
The show'spopularity is rooted in its unique effort to go beyond well-known information about Bollywood celebrities and integrate their life'sjourney with their artistic journey, without ever resorting to sensationalism. This kind of presentation has appealed not only to TV viewers, but even to the interviewees themselves.
Another unique and highly popular feature of Namaste Cinema is that, every once in a while, it showcases Bollywood thematically. There have been special episodes like patriotism in Hindi cinema on the occasion of Independence Day, Ram in Hindi cinema on Deepavali, Krishna in Hindi cinema on Krishna Janmashtami, Shiv in Hindi cinema on Shiv Ratri, etc. There have also been special episodes on Bollywood'sportrayal of Holi, children and monsoons. A recent episode on Vande Mataram in Hindi cinema was indeed an eye-opener. It presented scores of Hindi films ? right from Anandmath to Lage Raho Munnabhai ? that have honoured the national song in diverse ways.
Hindi cinema is not only a profession but also a passion for Pratibha Advani, whose previous film-based programme Yaadein ran for 86 episodes on DD National channel. ?Hindi cinema combines social message and pure entertainment so powerfully and creatively that no other medium can match its impact,? she remarks. ?Anything to do with the Hindi cinema excites me. Watching a movie is bliss for me. And now that my TV programme enables me to get to know the big achievers of Indian cinema, I get immense professional and personal satisfaction.?
The 100-minute interview that Pratibha Advani did with the greatest legend of Hindi cinema is one of his most comprehensive interviews on television. Candid, self-reflective and as impressively articulate as only Big B can be, he reveals in it little-known aspects of his life ? how friends of his parents wanted to name him Inquilab and how he came to be christened Amitabh; how in his growing-up years he received the ?best of East and West? from his illustrious parents Harivanshrai and Teji Bachchan. He narrates his initial struggles in Mayanagari Mumbai, including his embarrassing discomfort with dancing! He explains that he developed his unique minimalist dancing style because of his unusual height.
Whenever he hit a rough patch in his life, he says that he was comforted by his father'swise poetic counsel: ?Man ka ho to accha. Man ka na ho to zyada achcha.?
Amitabh Bachchan correlates the popularity of his films in the ?70s and ?80s with the mood of the nation then. But he also admits that, when he returned to his film career after a sabbatical of five years, ?the old order had changed? and he had to adapt himself to ?the new order?, an adaptation in which he succeeded brilliantly. He emphasizes the need for an artist to continually learn from new situations in life, saying, ?The day I feel fully satisfied with my achievements in cinema and think that I have nothing more to learn, would be the worst day of my life as an artist.?
?As I was working on the five episodes that feature Amitji'sinterview,? says Pratibha Advani, ?I was struck by how humble and creative he is even after almost 40 years in the film industry. He is simply unsurpassable in terms of the sheer volume of his work, the range of his performances, and his ability, even at 65, to relate to the young and old alike.?
The interview ends with Amitabh Bachchan rendering, in his inimitable voice, excerpts from his father'scelebrated poem Madhushala.
?My attempt in each episode,? says Pratibha Advani, ?is to reveal to the viewers the person behind the celluloid image. It seeks to bring out little-known aspects of the personality'schildhood, family, initial trials and hardships in the film industry, sources of creative inspiration, and attitude towards life.?