New Delhi: Former Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Amar Singh’s tumultuous relationship with the Bachchans of Bollywood has been a source of newspaper headlines and even part of a book. But now, the relationship has taken a surprising turn towards amicability.
Singh spent years distancing himself from the Bachchans, even calling the family “indecent” and “hypocrites” over their cinematic roles. On Tuesday though, Singh put out a tweet saying it was his father’s death anniversary and Amitabh Bachchan had messaged him on the occasion. Given that he’s on his “death bed”, Singh said he regrets his “over reaction against Amit ji & family”.
“God bless them all,” he wrote.
The Rajya Sabha MP’s surprising message also included a video of him from Singapore.
“I realise, I must express regret for the harsh words I used (against them). In my mind, more than hatred, I had disappointment towards his behaviour. But it seems, he never had any disappointment, nor bitterness in him (against me),” he says feebly in the video.
Amitabh Bachchan hasn’t responded to Singh’s message yet.
A ‘family’ member
Amar Singh’s friendship with the Bachchans goes back to the 1990s. In 1996, Amitabh Bachchan created the Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL), an entertainment company that soon found itself steeped in about Rs 90 crore in debt.
By 1999, Bachchan filed a plea with the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction, asking that ABCL be called a sick company. Though Bachchan had once been close to Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress, even winning a Lok Sabha election from Allahabad in 1984, an unlikely ally stepped up to help him with his debt and get ABCL back on its feet — Amar Singh.
Bachchan was set to revive the company by 2003, with Singh in tow. Singh, in fact, had been exalted to the status of “family”, and had been given the role of vice-chairman of the company.
“I am very fortunate that I have a younger brother like him,” Bachchan said in an interview. “He gave his hand to me in that trouble and introduced me to the Managing Worker of Sahara Group Subrata Roy and industrialist Anil Ambani. They joined hands not to put money, but they gave me moral support and strength.”
In 2004, Bachchan’s wife and fellow actor Jaya Bachchan began her political career with Singh holding her hand, becoming a Rajya Sabha member with the Samajwadi Party, a position she has held ever since.
What went wrong?
In 2010, Singh resigned from the SP over a rift with its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, and was caught the next year for bribing three MPs to support Manmohan Singh’s UPA-I government during a trust vote in 2008.
His stint in Tihar jail was brief, but the fact that the Bachchans didn’t visit him was considered the proverbial nail in the coffin for their relationship.
“When I got bail, Mr Bachchan came to see me, but I was not impressed,” Singh had once said, according to the book Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous. “Bachchan only came after I was granted bail and was in hospital. I was very cold and formal with him because he waited.”
Singh also said: “When he came to meet me, I didn’t feel like talking to him because the feelings I had for him, the friendship, had gone. They had got filtered from my mind and the realisation had dawned that mostly people are weathercocks.”