NEW DELHI — “Piku,” a Bollywood rib-tickler, which has Amitabh Bachchan portraying an old Bengali man suffering from an anxiety disorder due to constipation, left President Pranab Mukherjee helpless with laughter June 7.
Mukherjee enjoyed the film at a special screening at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the company of the megastar himself and veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani, a known movie buff, who was seated next to the president.
The president was seen having a hearty laugh many times during screening of the film in which Bachchan plays father to Deepika Padukone.
The 72-year-old actor, who was seated between the president and his daughter Sharmistha, was also seen sharing some behind-the-scene stories during the screening.
“I say with great reserve of modesty, he absolutely loved it! Most particular he seemed to have enjoyed the ‘perfect’ Bengali-Hindi accent, which he felt was flawless,” Bachchan wrote on his blog.
“The president later invited us over for dinner and we continued to discuss the film and its merits,” Bachchan, who was accompanied by his son Abhishek, said.
The Director of the movie Shoojit Sircar, whose “Madras Café” and “Vicky Donor” received wide acclaim, was also present, and so was Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
The movie, which grossed Rs. 100 crore within first 10 days since its release May 8, shows Padukone as an architect who loves her father Bhashkor, played by Bachchan.
The movie’s other two stars Padukone and Irrfan Khan were not present at the screening as they are abroad.
“The grand halls of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, perhaps the biggest and largest palace in the world, were a picture of the grace and dignity that such occasions demand. His felicitation to us by the mementos was remarkable. Greatly indebted to him for having found the time to be with us,” Bachchan wrote on the blog.
Last year the actor’s film “Bhootnath Returns,” which highlighted the importance of voting, was screened for the president. Bachchan thanked Mukherjee for bestowing the honor once again.
“This then is the venue of our screening, much like the screening of ‘Bhoothnath Returns.’ Screening over the president welcomes us on stage and presents us with a gift that forms the mementos he presents and then invites us over for dinner, in one of the many ornate halls that this palace possesses!” Bachchan wrote.
The visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan took senior Bachchan down the memory lane as he remembered his childhood as well as previous occasions when he was felicitated at the Presidential Palace.
“I may have visited it more than I would imagine, during my early years when we would come to watch films in a small auditorium within the Bhavan; the swimming pool where each summer heat was defeated in the bright cool waters; the many investiture ceremonies, the swearing in ceremonies, personal visits, and on.
“A joy and privilege. There has since been great improvement in the building of a separate structure that houses all the important cultural activities, and it is a joy to see the president taking personal interest in it,” he wrote.
“As you begin to approach the massive portals of this majestic building, its sheer magnificence overwhelms you,” he said, while thanking the president for his time to grace the occasion.