He has shot films in Nepal and remembers attending poetry symposiums there, but Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s oldest and fondest memory of the earthquake-ravaged Himalayan nation is that it was the first foreign country he visited, back in 1954.
The “grave tragedy” of April 25 when a 7.9-magnitude earthquake jolted Nepal, “continues to haunt our minds, hearts and thoughts”, says the Big B.
“Nepal, was a dream, a geographical location in the early years of growing up. A foreign land, but one that displayed several universal qualities with India. It was next door, much like the next door neighbour in our living residential conditions, and there was an emotional connect with the region.
“I visited Nepal in 1954… in a twin-engined propellor Dakota aircraft… it was my very first experience on a plane, and of course my very first visit to a foreign country. The excitement generated was beyond compare,” the 72-year-old recounted on his blog.
He remembers how Kathmandu, in that year, was in the process of development, “bare and scarce and basic”.
Two aspects of his 1954 Nepal visit are etched in the actor’s memory — “ping pong balls from China” and a bandgala Jodhpuri jacket he wore for a formal ceremony there.
He added: “In Nepal, the other memory was of poetry symposiums at various homes of dignitaries, politicians and people of eminence… And the only Nepalese that I learnt then which has remained with me since: Kankdo kayo! Kausto lago? Ramro lago ramro lago!! (Did you eat the cucumber! How was it? It was good, it was good).”
These words, he used in a scene for the 1983 film “Mahaan”.
“The later trips to Nepal have been for films I shot there – ‘Khuda Gawah’ and ‘Mahaan’. Those were most exhilarating. Nepal was completely different from those 1954 days.
“Developed and gushing with its modernity, yet still preserving its history, tradition and culture. The love of the people, their hospitality, the frenzy with which they gave audience to us, and of course their love for our films,” Big B shared.
He has expressed how “heartbreaking” it is to witness now, “those very exquisite archeological wonders, in the surrounding of which we shot our scenes and songs”, reduced to rubble by the recent tragedy.
“Painful and filled with sadness. I wish and pray that as life moves on, Nepal and its brave people shall recover from this unfortunate event and bring their lives back to normalcy as soon as possible. My prayers are of course with them, but so is my concern for support,” added the actor, who says he has made “contribution”.
“No single contribution can ever be enough. It has to be a collective effort. Each drop counts,” he said as he urged his fans to do their bit for relief efforts in Nepal.