Mumbai, July 18
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who will be seen in a
film themed on caste-based reservations, says he doesn't believe in
the caste system, has never faced any bias because of his caste and
is proud that his father gave him a surname that doesn't denote any
"If ever I have faced a rejection or a failure,
it has been on the basis of my incapability to do something and
never my caste," Amitabh, 68, told IANS in an interview.
think rejection because of incapability is right because if I'm not
capable of doing a particular work, the other person has the right
to disapprove of me or reject me. Like, I lost in politics because I
was not capable, not because I was of a particular caste," added Big
B, who is a legend in the Hindi film industry with several hits like
"Sholay" and "Deewar".
In "Aarakshan", directed by Prakash
Jha and releasing Aug 12, Amitabh will be seen as the principal of a
private educational institution. Themed on caste-based reservations
in educational institutions, "Aarakshan" revolves around Prabhakar
Anand (Amitabh), an idealistic principal, and his loyal disciple
Deepak Kumar (Saif Ali Khan).
Traditional Indian society is
based on social hierarchy created by the caste system.
Amitabh said he never believed in the caste system because of his
upbringing. "I never understood the caste system because I was born
and brought up in a family and in an atmosphere that never ever
preached caste or believed in it," said Amitabh, eldest son of late
Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan.
"I feel very proud because I am the first bearer of a name that
was started by my father which has no cast reference at all. My
father, perhaps, was the very first individual in the city of
Allahabad to have undergone an inter-caste marriage in those
"He married a Sikh. He was a Kayasth from UP (Uttar
Pradesh). When the question came about of my admission in school and
the teachers asked what is the surname, my father said he didn't
want the surname to bear any kind of caste reflection and therefore
his pen name became my surname.
"So I'm very proud of the
fact that I was the originator of the Bachchan name, which is
casteless, if surnames are an indication of any kind of caste," he
Amitabh's family boasts of secular credentials. While
his father married a Sikh, he himself is married to a Bengali (Jaya
Bachchan). His son (Abhishek Bachchan) is married to a Kannadiga
(Aishwarya Rai) and his daughter (Shweta Nanda) has tied the knot
with a Punjabi (Nikhil Nanda).
When asked what could be done
to break the caste barriers and change the situation in the country
, he said: "Many attempts have been made... everywhere I have gone,
where we have discussed this, we haven't really come across a
solution. It is something that we have inherited. Our social
structure has been developed in this manner. We have to live with
it. But I hope something can be done."
Speaking on the film
"Aarakshan", which also stars Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone,
Prateik Babbar and Manoj Bajpai in pivotal roles, Amitabh said
director Jha helped him understand the subject quite a
"I wasn't as conversant as perhaps Prakashji about the
subject because I never paid attention to it and never thought about
it because I don't believe in it. When I met Prakashji and he talked
about the film, I came to know various aspects which were very
convincingly and adequately explained to me during the making of the
film," said Amitabh, who has so far featured in about 180