Turns out, not only did legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan not charge a penny for singing the national anthem before the start of the India-Pakistan T20 World Cup match, as reported in certain sections of the media, he spent Rs 30 lakh from his own pocket to attend the event, according to cricketer Sourav Ganguly.
"He is a very special man. I'll always be grateful to him," Ganguly, who had about 10 days to prepare the venue, the iconic Eden Gardens, for the epic clash, told the Anandabazar Patrika.
Ganguly further elaborated: "Can you imagine, he spent Rs 30 lakh of his own money to perform at this venue. He's bought his own flight tickets, paid for his own hotel stay. I literally begged him to accept some money. He told me, 'no, I've come to answer the call of love. There's no question of taking money."
Can you imagine, he spent Rs 30 lakh of his own money to perform at this venue. He's bought his own flight tickets, paid for his own hotel stay.
"I told him just as he was about to leave the field after the anthem, 'sir, only you are capable of this."
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) March 19, 2016
This is what Bachchan tweeted after an adrenalin-charged match that saw Indian batsmen outsmarting the Pakistani side.
T 2180 - Just landed from an excessive adrenalin rushed victory cheer celebration .. and the honor of singing the National Anthem !!
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) March 19, 2016
But it's clear from this tweet, that the actor was deeply unhappy about what was being written about him.
T 2181 - When you give attention to disgusting rubbish, you justify the purpose of the dirt .. cheap attention ! pic.twitter.com/UVCbkxnAaJ
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) March 20, 2016
The rumour was triggered by a scathing and mostly speculative piece in India Samvad, quoting "sources in Star India", that Bachchan "collected Rs 4 crore" for singing the anthem during the Pro Kabaddi League 2015. The paper said it was "yet to get details regarding payment of the event" at Edens.
Soon social media was abuzz with criticism of the star. Many slammed him for "accepting money" for singing the anthem, arguing that patriotism and not money should have been the motivation for the performance.
DeshBhakti doesn't come for free!!
Amitabh Bachchan charges 4 crore for singing national anthem during match.
— FARHAN (@F_k007) March 19, 2016
Amitabh Bachchan charged Rupees 4 crore for singing the Indian national anthem today https://t.co/kCPWlCGn9y Patriotism has a price !
— مسافر (@ibnebattuta) March 19, 2016
In an opinion piece for the Daily O, Sunil Rajguru even argued that there's nothing wrong in charging money for singing the anthem.
"Amitabh is arguably India's greatest film personality and he's a professional too. There would be nothing out of place had he been paid to sing the national anthem in such an out-and-out commercial set-up like an ICC World Cup.... This brings us to the question as to why we are all so ashamed of making money in the first place," Rajguru wrote.
— DailyO (@DailyO_) March 21, 2016
Bachchan went straight to Eden after arriving in Kolkata and sat in a room, quieter than usual. When Imran Khan entered, the entire room came to life as the cricketing icon went straight up to the actor and expressed gratitude for his help in raising money for his hospital. Bachchan smiled and asked him how he was doing, the ABP report stated.
Ganguly's comments will now perhaps lay to rest the unpleasant controversy.
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