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Keith Vaz calls for Amitabh Bachchan to be honoured in Britain on his 80th birthday

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan must be honoured by Britain on the occasion of his 80th birthday which takes place on Tuesday 11th October 2022, said Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz, Britain’s longest-serving Indian-origin MP who now chairs the think-tank Integration Foundation.

Vaz has written to the British PM Liz Truss, suggesting that Amitabh Bachchan be given an honorary knighthood on his 80th birthday, a privilege that in the past has been bestowed on film director Steven Spielberg, actress Angelina Jolie and businessman Bill Gates, amongst others. This honour for Bachchan will be seen as a recognition of his great legacy, particularly for the 1.4 million British Indians in the UK.

A global superstar, Amitabh Bachchan is one of the greatest and most influential actors in the history of Indian cinema. Having appeared in over 200 Indian films in a career spanning more than five decades, he is proclaimed as the “Shehenshah (Emperor) of Bollywood” and the “Star of the Millenium”. With his massive popularity not only in South Asia but across the globe in Africa, Europe, the Middle-East and the Americas, Bachchan is an international megastar whose personality, passion and performances have inspired millions. As part of a series of events to celebrate Big B’s 80th birthday, Vaz has also written to the Principal of Homerton College, University of Cambridge, Lord Simon Woolley, to ask him to inaugurate an annual lecture to be named after Bachchan. This will also recognise the legacy of Bachchan’s late father, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, a great poet of his time who was very special to the actor. The designing of a piece of artwork is also ongoing in a park in Rushey Mead, Leicester named after Bachchan.

Bachchan has visited the UK numerous times and contributed to several charitable events in the UK. Vaz first met him several decades ago when Bachchan unveiled two mobile diabetes units in Goa and Mumbai for the UK-India charity, Silver Star Diabetes. He was also invited by Former UK PM David Cameron to unveil Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in London’s Parliament Square in 2015. Having been honoured by the Government of India with three prestigious civilian awards (the Padma Shri in 1984, the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2015), Bachchan was also honoured by the Government of France with its highest civilian honour, Knight of the Legion of Honour, in 2007. The presentation of the honorary knighthood to Mr. Bachchan by the British Government on his 80th birthday will be the recognition of his notable work in the field of art by bringing cultures together.

Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz said, “The connection between Britain and India is exemplified by Bachchan’s life. He has millions of fans in Britain and throughout the world and this important day should not pass without the UK Government and people honouring him. Amitabh Bachchan is an icon. First and foremost an Indian. But he is also a global citizen who has touched millions, especially the Indian diaspora. We need to recognise him during these historic celebrations. I hope that in our small way, these series of events will recognise this milestone in Indian history and the global film industry”.