MUMBAI : ''As artists, I believe we have a duty to preserve what we create,'' Amitabh Bachan said, while speaking on Friday at an awards organised by the International Federation of film archives from around the world.

''Our work represents a lifetime of passion and devotion to our craft. We need to ensure that we preserve this legacy in memory of all those who came before us and in recognition of the moving  image as an art form and a visual document of humankind,'' Bachan shared at the event which was live-streamed simultaneously from Mumbai, Brussels and Lusanne.

Various tributes to the Indian actor's contribution to the preservation of the country's cinematic heritage were made during the ceremony, including video messages from Hollywood directors Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese, both former winners of the FIAF award.

Scorsese, the first recipient of the accolade in 2021, lauded Bachan's cinematic career spanning five decades including over 200 film appearances.

''He's a celebrated actor who has put considerable weight and reputation behind the cause of film preservation,'' he noted.

Big B's legacy

The legendary Hollywood actor was born in 1942 to renowned Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachan and his Sikh wife, Teji Bachan.

Bachan, or Big B, as his fans call him, began his acting career in 1969. Folloeing multiple appearances in Hindi movies, his breakthrough came with the film Zanjeer in 1975, where he played the role of an honest police officer with clashes with the boss of a criminal gang.

This role, along with performances in  subsequent movies including Deewar [1975], in which he portrayed a man disillusioned by the idealism of an honest life, resonated with the masses in socialist India and earned him the epithet of ''the angry young man.''

Through Shoolay, a 1975 western-style film about two crooks who escape prison, Bachan gained cult status in India. in the 1990s, he also became hugely popular in Afghanistan by starring in Khuda Gawah, in the lead role of Afghan tribal chief.

He also featured in Hollywood movie  The Great Gatsby alongside Lenoardo DiCaorio and has been the host of Kaun Banega Croreepati, the Indian edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

He is among  the richest actors in the world, with a net worth estimated $400 million [Euro 337 million]. Beyond India and Afghanistan, he is extremely popular in the Middle East, especially in the UAE and Egypt.

South Asia's endangered film heritage

India has not been very good at preserving its films, according to Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, the founder of Mumbai-based film Heritage Foundation, which nominated Bachan for the FIAF award.

''By 1950, India has lost almost 70% of its films, and of the 1,338 silent films made in India, just about 29 survived, many only in fragments,'' he said.

The Indian actor nominated for his advocacy efforts to preserve Indian cinema and related memorabilia, as well the celluloid prints of the films he produced and acted in, the FIAF said in a press release prior to the ceremony.

The International Federation of Film Archives [FIAF], of which India's Film Heritage Foundation is an affiliate, is a Brussels-based organization.

It was founded in 1938 in Paris by the Cinematheque Francaise, the British Film Institute, the Museum of Modern Art Film Library and the Reichsarchiv in Germany, which was incidentally one of the world's first film databases, established under Hitler and Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who was also among the initiators of the federation. [DW]


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