Macau (China), May 8 (IANS) Indian cinema was considered "infradig" several decades ago, but it has become the "best example of national integration" as it brings people of different castes and communities together, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan said at the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) press meet here Friday.
"Indian cinema, for those perhaps unaware of its existence 70 or 80 years ago, was an entity that was looked somewhat down upon socially. Children of good homes and people from more elite families were kept away for many years because it was looked down upon as something infradig. But over the years, it has grown to an extent that it has almost become a parallel culture," Amitabh said.
IIFA aims at taking Indian cinema beyond Indian shores and this year it is celebrating its 10th year in Macau after having travelled to countries like Britain, South Africa, Singapore, Dubai and Thailand in previous years.
"I have to say that we in India have a 5,000-year legacy of culture that Indian cinema in the last 100 years has become a very integral part of. But whether this is good for the country or not, I don't know," the actor added at the event held at the plush Venetian Macao Resort-Hotel, which will host the three-day IIFA weekend June 11-13.
The 66-year-old, who is among India's most internationally renowned film icons, said that the fact that he is in Macau for the first time for IIFA "speaks volumes about the progress that Indian cinema has made over these years and the identity that it has created in the minds and hearts of the people not just living in India but outside as well".
Amitabh, the brand ambassador for IIFA, said that at times he wonders what is it about Indian cinema that draws fans from other countries, while stressing that films have only brought people closer together within India.
"I have always believed that our cinema really integrates everybody who lives in our country - when he goes out to buy a ticket he never questions when he is sitting on his seat who is sitting next to him - whether he is a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian - what colour, caste or creed he is - we laugh, cry, and sing the same song. And this the best example of national integration in my eyes where cinema brings people together," the megastar said.
This is Amitabh's first ever visit to Macau and he is staying at the Venetian Macau-Resort, which covers a 100,000 square feet area and boasts of having one of the largest casinos in the world. The actor says he is enjoying every bit of being there as it has been his dream for many years to visit the city.
"I would like to initially thank all the people here for personally looking after me and giving me such a warm welcome in Macau. I also thank you so much Mr.Stephen Weaver (president of Asian region, Las Vegas Sands Corp, a hotel, gaming and resort development company) for putting me up in such a monstrously large suite - I think this is the biggest room I have ever lived in my entire life," he quipped.
The IIFA week-end, organised by Wizcraft Entertainment Pvt Ltd and to be sponsored by Videocon, is expected to draw over 500 luminaries from the Indian film industry.