Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

Bachchan denies Slumdog criticism

Amitabh Bachchan
Mr Bachchan is India's best-known actor

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan has denied criticising award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.

The actor says opinions posted on his blog criticising the film for projecting India as the "third world dirty underbelly", were made by others.

He says he merely put up the comments, which he did not attribute, to start a debate and is anguished that they have been construed to be his.

Mr Bachchan is India's best-known actor and has a massive fan following.

Slumdog Millionaire, made by British director Danny Boyle, has swept the Golden Globe and Critics' Choice awards. The film is also a favourite to win at the Oscars.

'Invited debate'

"What a colossal joke this is all turning out to be! Without reading the text of my blog or the purpose behind mention of 'SlumDog' an entire machinery of abuse has been directed towards me," Mr Bachchan writes in his blog.

"Fact is - some one mentioned the film on my blog. Some expressed opinion for it, some against. And yes, they contained some strong assumptions. I merely put both of them up and invited debate," he says.

A man sleeps near a poster of Slumdog Millionaire in Mumbai on January 13, 2009
Slumdog Millionaire is a favourite for the Oscars

Mr Bachchan blames the media for taking the "pros and cons of others" and reporting them as his.

"And now, after having castigated me for something not attributable to me, [the media] has made my real opinion on the film after seeing it, impossible. If I do not like it, there will be greater abuse. If I like it, there will be abuse."

Earlier, an entry on the actor's blog read: "If SM (Slumdog Millionaire) projects India as [a] Third World dirty underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations.

"It's just that the SM idea authored by an Indian and conceived and cinematically put together by a Westerner, gets creative [Golden] Globe recognition. The other would perhaps not."

Slumdog Millionaire opens in India next week. The film has been nominated in 11 categories for next month's British Academy Film Awards.

A rags-to-riches tale of an improbable winner of game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire, the film is based on Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup's book.

Mr Bachchan's career spans almost 40 years. He has acted in more than 140 movies.

He starred in the legendary Hindi movie Sholay and hosted the first three seasons of Kaun Banega Crorepati (Who Wants to be a Millionaire).

Bachchan topped a 1999 BBC News website poll to find the greatest star of the millennium, beating the likes of Marlon Brando and Charlie Chaplin.

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