As nationwide protests erupted in Egypt against the autocratic rule of President Hoshni Mubarak, my own memories took me back to my visit to that extremely modern and progressive Islamic nation with rich history.
Though it was a great learning experience for me when I visited there in 2006 to attend World Insurance Conference, what really surprised me there was the kind of iconic status our very own Amitabh Bachchan enjoys there. It was something seeing is believing.
It is not only in India that he is the ‘Big B’, the unparalleled icon of the masses. He is also the ‘Big B’ in Egypt. He dominates the entertainment market of this Arabic speaking country like a colossus.
Whether it is a guide near gigantic pyramids or a humble guy selling local delicacies on the banks of the massive river Nile, there is one cry that goes up in unison for ‘Amitab Bachchan’. Strangely, only a few in Egypt have heard of the Khans, and Shah Rukh seems to be no exception.
The moment Egyptians set their eyes on an Indian they break into a chorus: “India? Amitabh Bachchan!” The man seems to be synonymous to India. And what do they like about him? It is clarified: it’s not his acting ability, poise, sophistication or even the way he delivers his lines. It’s his brawn, they say. “He strong man!” they chime.
One of the local delegates told me that when AB was seriously injured while doing the shooting of Coolie film, the whole of Egypt was praying for him. A lady journalist told me while strolling close to great Nile River that AB was the favourite man of her mother and he is also her dream man. The popularity of Amitabh Bachchan is matchless. A local journalist told me that when Amitabh Bachchan came to Cairo in mid 90s to attend a function, the entire capital city thronged close to his hotel to look him.
If you do not believe all this, visit Egypt after normalcy returns.