Bollywood blog addict Bachchan celebrates landmark

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The Independent Culture

Lots of celebrities write blogs, but no one blogs quite like Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan who this week marked three years of writing in which he has often produced 1,000 words a day.

Bachchan celebrated the anniversary of his Internet outpourings with a characteristic array of long postings covering family news, spiritual thoughts and updates on his health, travel plans and sleep patterns.

Each Bachchan message attracts a huge readership and hundreds of comments contributed by adoring Indians who view him as a national father figure as well as an ageing screen star.

"Thank you for your presence and for your gratitude," Bachchan wrote to followers who congratulated him on his blog landmark.

"You have stood by me in rough weather and fair," he continued in inimitable style. "You have commented and encouraged, analysed and assessed, laughed and cried."

"This is indeed a superior class of people and I am proud to have been an initiator for all."

Bachchan, who is universally known as "the Big B", blogs about 5,000 words most weeks - a rate that would give him a total output of about 780,000 words since his first posting on April 18, 2008.

Almost every day, and often in the middle of the night, Bachchan - who admits to being an insomniac - writes in detail about his children, his dog "Shanouk", politics, philosophy and memories of his movie career.

As the patriarch of Bollywood's leading family, Bachchan's news is followed avidly, especially concerning his son Abhishek, a successful actor who is married to actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai.

As well as his "EF" (extended family), Bachchan's other favourite topics include cricket, his life on film shoots around the world, and current affairs ranging from Indian government issues to unrest in the Arab world.

Blogs often end with him saying his eyes are about to close with exhaustion.

"I know it's late - very late! But no matter what time it is I get disturbed and anxious until I put down my post for the day," he wrote in a piece uploaded at 3:30 am on Wednesday.

After 600 words in which he wondered whether he could post blogs while in his sleep, he complained of "black squares" in front of his eyes and signed off with: "Goodnight my dearest loves."

The physical exertion on Bachchan, 68, should not be underestimated.

He types all the words himself before posting them on the Internet, though secretaries are thought to help edit and spell-check the reams of often verbose copy.

Any mention in the blog of health problems or family disputes is immediately picked up by readers and soon reaches the national press and TV channels.

Last year fans were aghast when Bachchan blogged that he was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and needed regular medical care.

He tried to reassure followers that he was not at death's door, explaining that the disease was linked to a serious accident in which he ruptured his spleen on the set of the 1982 film "Coolie".

Bachchan, who is treated like royalty in movie-mad India, made his name in the 1970s as a handsome young man playing lead roles in Hindi blockbusters such as "Sholay" and "Deewaar".

His career later took a dive, but hosting the Indian version of TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? put him back in the spotlight and his blog has become a key part of his image as Bollywood's elder statesman.

"Thanks for writing on the net each single day without fail for three years... feel connected with you... it's a great feeling," wrote blog follower Madhu Jain this week.

And for those who still can't get enough of Bachchan, he has also developed into a keen Twitter fan, filing updates several times a day.

Bachchan blogs at http://bigb.bigadda.com and tweets as SrBachchan.

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