On Saturday's episode of 'Frankly Speaking With Arnab Goswami', a weekly interview show aired on Times Now and conducted by anchor Goswami, it was Amitabh Bachchan who was under the spotlight. The 73-year-old actor, one of the biggest movie stars in the history of cinema, was grilled by Goswami in one of his sharpest interviews yet and maintained a largely diplomatic, non-committal stance on various issues ranging from the Salman Khan hit-and-run case verdict to his friendship with the Gandhi family.
Within the first few minutes, after pleasantries had been exchanged, Goswami asked Bachchan a penetrating question: why did the film industry rally around Salman Khan after the hit-and-run verdict and spare not a word for the victims of the accident?
He even pointed out how it wasn't an "isolated incident", citing the similar reaction to Sanjay Dutt's sentencing in the '90s as evidence. Bachchan, visibly rattled, calmly replied by saying that as a matter of perception, it is easier for the film industry to identify with people they know on a personal level while the public has access to the "facts" and more "precise" information. Here's an excerpt that shows how the conversation went:
Arnab Goswami: Mr Bachchan, I find that the so-called sympathy in both these cases — Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt — emanated from all these people saying, "Oh, they're very kind people" or "They're very nice people otherwise". What does that have to do with their culpability in a crime? Why does the Hindi film industry have blinkers on?
Amitabh Bachchan: No, they're not blinkers. What is wrong in saying something good about a person?
AG: What's that got to do with the crime?
AB: No, it has nothing to do with the crime.
AG: Then why is there a focus on that?
AB: Well, why not?
AG: No word for the victim?
AB: I like somebody's face, I like him on the screen, I like what he's doing as far as his charity is concerned. I'm not saying, please look at it compassionately because [he's a good person]...
AG: So he can kill a person and get away with it?
AB: Fair enough, there's the law of the land, which will take care of it.
At this point, Goswami brought up the example of Shweta Basu Prasad ('Makdee', 'Iqbal'), a former child actress, who did not receive similar support from the industry when she was recently accused of prostitution (charges that were eventually proven false) without naming her. Bachchan, who looked perplexed while Goswami described the incident and framed his question, muttered, "I don't know of this case. Maybe it's because they're not as well known in our part of the world... in our Hindi belt."
Goswami asks Bachchan if the film fraternity always wants to be on the right side of politicians, to which Bachchan responds "I think there may be some truth in that. We are vulnerable."
Later, Goswami went on to ask Bachchan deep, probing questions about his apolitical stance — including how he has transitioned from someone who once campaigned for the Congress party to working with Narendra Modi's BJP government — as well as his alleged involvement in the Bofors scandal. Bachchan, with rare honesty and characteristic grace, spoke frankly about how the allegations against him and his family had hurt him deeply and made him resolve to never get involved in any sort of controversy again.
Watch the full video above.