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Amitabh Bachchan will be guest of honour at the 12th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, the iconic face of Indian cinema, will be the guest of honour at the 12th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival.


The 12th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, the only festival in Italy entirely devoted to Indian cinema and directed by Selvaggia Velo, will take place at Cinema Odeon, in Florence, from 7th to 13th December, under the Patronage of the Embassy of India and the Italy-India association.


This is an extremely important year for Indian cinema, as it turns 100: on 21st April 1913, the Olympia Theatre in Bombay hosted the very first Indian film, Raja Harishchandra by Dadasaheb Phalke. It was an extraordinary event, and Phalke’s silent film was an instant hit even when it was screened again at the Coronation Cinema in Bombay on 3rd May.

The Festival will present a restored version of the film, in collaboration with the National Film Archive of India.

To celebrate this very special birthday, River to River Florence Indian Film Festival has a big surprise in store: in partnership with Luisa Via Roma, it will pay a special tribute to a Bollywood superstar that is loved all over the world by millions of fans, hailed everywhere on earth and worshipped like a true god: actor Amitabh Bachchan – as an official guest, for the first time at a festival in Italy – who will be in Florence to present some of his films (Deewaar, Sholay and Black) and a documentary on his life.


Amitabh Bachchan, the Bollywood superstar


Born on 11th October 1942, the father in law of the famous and beautiful former Miss World and L’Oreal face Aishwarya Rai, Amitabh Bachchan is without any doubt the most important and iconic actor in Indian cinema, not only for the number of films he has starred in – over one hundred and eighty – but as a producer and as a civil and political activist as well.

People who are not familiar with Bollywood will certainly remember young Jamal, the leading character in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, who, in one of the first scenes of the film, would stop at nothing to get an autograph of Amitabh Bachchan, who, incidentally, has been hosting for years the Indian version of Who wants to be a millionaire?, the TV show the plot is based on.


Son of the famous Hindu poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Amitabh made his debut as an actor in 1969 in Saat Hindustani (Seven Indians) by Abbas, for which he got the National Best Debut Actor Award.

In 1977, he was the voice of the masterpiece Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players) by Satyajit Ray, but the film that consecrated him as a superstar was Anand (1971) by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, followed by Saudagar (Trader), based on one of Mitra’s short stories, and Namak Haraam (Traitor), both released in 1973. In those films, Amitabh Bachchan was a gloomy antihero that somehow brings to mind the characters of Bimal Roy’s neorealist films.


In Bombay to Goa(1972) by Mehmood, he is the lover and defender of a girl who fled from home, in Zanjeer (Shackles, 1973) by Prakash Mehra he is a police inspector, in Deewar (The Wall, 1975) by Yash Chopra and in Sholay (Embers, 1975) by Ramesh Sippi he is a criminal, in Don (1978) by Chandra Barot he stars both as Don, a racketeer, and as Vijay, his double.


In the array of seducers and cynical dudes that can be found in lots of Indian films of the Seventies, Amitabh embodies the young man engaged in a fight against the system, in the grips of the endless conflict between state law and the law of the family and clan. It was because of his charisma and distinctive voice that Deewar and Sholay were such great hits when they were first released and still are among the most famous and representative films of the entire Bollywood industry.


While filming Coolie (1983) by Manmohan Desai, Amitabh Bachchan got seriously injured at the stomach in a fight scene: the whole country held its breath for months while he was in hospital.


Following the accident, Amitabh decided to take a break from his acting career and ventured into politics, supporting his friend Rajiv Gandhi in the 1984 Congress election campaign. He went back to acting in 1988, in Shahenshah (The Emperor)by Tinnu Anand.


In 1995, he founded his own production company, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd, a veritable entertainment merchandising and marketing company that has not been immune to financial crises, with repercussions on the star’s career.


Over the years,Bachchan has proven to be a very versatile actor, who can easily handle very different roles, and has worked with the best known and the most innovative directors of the time.


In 2000, he won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for Mohabbatein (Love stories) by Aditya Chopra.


The most interesting films in which he has starred in the last few years include Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham (Sometimes happy sometimes sad, 2001) by Karan Johar, the exciting box-office hit Black (2005) by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sarkar (2005), Ram Gopal Varma’s tribute to The Godfather, in which he acted with his son Abhishek, and Ekalavya (2007) by Vidhu Vinod Chopra.


As well as being a keen actor, Amitabh Bachchan is also socially engaged. In April 2005, he was appointed UNICEF Ambassador and is especially focussed on the fight against poliomyelitis.

River to River lands in Rome as well

To celebrate its twelfth birthday, River to River Florence Indian Film Festival decided to make its debut in Rome with “the best of” the Florence-based main Festival: just after Florence (7-13 December), the River to River Festival will then relocate to the banks of the Tiber, hosted by Cinema Trevi from 14th to 16th December.


The Festival is supported by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage - Cinema Division, the Region Tuscany and Fondazione Sistema Toscana Mediateca, as well as Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze along with OAC, Florens 2012 and the National India Tourism Office in Milan.

Invaluable support has also been given by Hotel Roma and Hotel Canada, Instyle, Klopman and Caffè Corsini, in addition to the collaboration with CTS, Palazzo Tornabuoni, Obikà Mozzarella Bar and Vini Barone Ricasoli.

This year, the Festival will also be starting a new partnership with Fondazione Piaggio, to celebrate the opening of its exhibition on Piaggio and India.

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