New Delhi: There is his cinema of course, his forays into our homes through TV and the occasional interview. But the Amitabh Bachchan connect goes deeper with the indefatigable 80-year-old communicating almost every day on social media platforms as well as a blog, making him India's most interactive celebrity perhaps.
That Bachchan, who celebrates his 80th birthday on Tuesday, handles his own accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram instead of handing it over to an agency or a PR team like many do make his outreach personal, almost intimate. Shifting gears to remain relevant in ever-changing times, Bachchan has a massive social media following -- Facebook (39 million), Instagram (31.4 million) and Twitter (48 million).
Add to this his blog, an expansive, daily musings of sorts, he shares on Tumblr.
Bachchan started his Twitter account on May 18, 2010, a few months before he turned 68, an age when many are retreating into retired lives. In the days since, India’s star through five decades has put out 4,435 tweets, numbering each post – a prodigious output of almost one tweet a day.
He is candid, respectful and sometimes argumentative in his interactions with his followers, whom he addresses as his 'extended family' or 'EF'.
Like his many avatars on screen, takes different forms on social media depending on the occasion. On festivals, he is the patriarch sharing photographs of deities. He is also an avid football and cricket fan, turning cheerleader for his favourite teams.
The industry veteran often promotes films of his peers and colleagues. Last week, he shared the trailer of "Chhello Show", India's official entry for the Oscars 2023, in his tweet T 4429.
"Chello Show tells the story of our vanishing film heritage. So proud of @FHF_Official ’s association with India’s official entry to the Oscars. In cinemas on Oct 14 by @roykapurfilms," he posted.
He also corrects his mistakes. Last year, for instance, he misspelt Dussehra in Hindi in a Facebook post. When a user pointed out the error, the actor was quick to say sorry.
"I apologise for the mistake and I will rectify it. Thank you for directing my attention towards this," Bachchan replied in the comments section in Hindi.
According to Mumbai-based social media expert Rohit Kerkar, Bachchan has played a crucial role in inspiring baby boomers (people born between 1946-1964) to embrace digital technology and become curious about social media.
"Not just his generation, he has also been successful in captivating the interest of Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z likewise. His adoption of the digital medium to connect with his fans is admirable, given that many of his contemporaries have failed to make that impact," the managing director of digital marketing agency Digital Strings told PTI.
His approach to social media has been clear right from the start - "inspire, engage and entertain".
"Bachchan has always been a trendsetter in all of his endeavours, and no wonder some of today's new-age technology brands look up to him as an endorsement choice for their products. His adoption of technology at this age can only be called inspirational," Kerkar, said.
Following behind him in Twitter are Akshay Kumar at 45.3 million, Salman Khan at 44.4 million and Shah Rukh Khan at 42.7 million on Twitter.
In an episode of his popular quiz show "Kaun Banega Crorepati", Bachchan said he personally handles his social media accounts. The posts on all his pages are identical.
He explained the idea behind the unusual practise of numbering social media posts in a 2019 interview to Shah Rukh Khan during a promotional event of their movie “Badla”: "I do this because if I want to track what I said on which day, I'll have a reference point," His Twitter profile also houses the link to his personal blog, which he has been maintaining for almost 15 years.
Titled 'Bachchan Bol', the Tumblr page is a digital form of a late-night diary featuring his musings, philosophies, ramblings, updates, both professional and personal, as well as messages for fans and followers.
It was through his blog last night that he acknowledged the blessings and wishes on his 80th birthday.
"And another 365 ..and another begins .. as do many other begins.. beginnings are required .. they provide ends .. and ends need love and grace and care to be accomplished (sic) "It is impossible for me to even attempt what your love and affection means to me .. so I fold my hands and pray for all in the spirit of generous gratitude .. My love as ever,” Bachchan wrote in the early hours of Tuesday after meeting admirers outside his home Jalsa at midnight.
He also uses social media to keep his followers informed about his health and well-being. In July 2020 when he tested positive for Covid and then again when he contracted the infection for the second time in August 2022, Bachchan used Twitter to announce his diagnosis and give updates throughout his recovery.
During the first pandemic-induced lockdown, Bachchan, who usually steers clear of controversy, was subjected to a lot of flak for retweeting a post that showed an illuminated India following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to people to switch off lights at their homes and light lamps, candles, diyas and mobile phone torches as a symbolic gesture of solidarity in the fight against coronavirus. It turned out to be a fake post.
Back in 2019, the megastar had offered a word of caution about the growing "new power" of social media.
"Social Media is being recognised as the NEW POWER , and in some intellectual quarters, the 5th Estate .. Media being the 4th , after the known 3 .. BUT .. a word of caution on what you express , because even 'lighthearted' is controversial now," he had tweeted.
According to SocialTracker, a social media analysis portal, Bachchan is at 29th position globally in the top 50 list of the Most Followed Twitter Users right now.
The list is topped by former US President Barack Obama (133.5 million) and also includes pop stars Justin Bieber (113.9 million), Katy Perry (108.9 million), Taylor Swift (91.2 million).