“When I met him this time around – after a long gap due to COVID-19, I realized that as much as a devotee anguishes over meeting his God, the God too yearns to meet his devotee,” says Sanjay Patodiya, returning fresh from meeting his God Amitabh Bachchan in Mumbai.
Patodiya from Kolkata, is best known as the man who has dedicated a temple to Big B at Bondel Road near Ballygunge. You could call him a die-hard fan: the stuff that films are made of. To witness his creation, get down at Ballygunge Phanri, and take an auto to Bondel Gate. Once you reach, cross the railway tracks and within a few minutes you will reach Shree Dhar Roy Road. Once there you will come across a shrine like no other: a place dedicated entirely to the Shehnshah of Bollywood.
The ground floor garage space is filled with hundreds of pictures of the famed star adorning the walls. Initially formed by the fan club in 1979, the present premises were built in 2000, making the shrine stand for 22 years now.
Devotees and fans will see the famed throne from Aks adorning the inner sanctum, on which the statue of Big B is placed. The likeness of the superstar is adorned with his shades, suit and shoes. “There are statues dedicated to him in London, Mumbai, Kolkata wax museum, but none of them are adorned with clothes that he actually wore, unlike this temple here. That is the specialty of the Amitabh Bachchan temple,” quips Patodiya.
The devotee recently met Bachchan in Mumbai. “He asked me about my family members, we spoke about random things as well. We even spoke about Aagastya’s debut, Abhishek’s Dasvi and our work during COVID-19.”
“When he expressed how happy he was with our endeavors, I reminded him that 22 years back I had made him one promise: we will only do good deeds in his name,” says Patodiya.
But why Amitabh Bachchan? “For the longest time I felt that my love for Amitabh Bachchan transcended that of being just a fan. It was more of devotion. With this thought in mind, and after much attempts and conjectures, I was able to build this temple dedicated to Big B,” says Patodiya. “He has crores of fans around the world. But I am not one of them. I am a devotee.”
“In the year 1982, when his accident on the sets of Coolie occurred, even medical science had given up. I had this strange sensation at that time that I might soon become an orphan. My dedication for him kept on increasing after he returned from the hands of death, and went on to have a successful career,” says Patodiya.
“Just like Meera had an unparalleled dedication and love for Krishna, I have the same feeling for Amitabh Bachchan ji. He is Lord Shiva to me and his son is Lord Ganesha.”
“I am lucky to have a family who are as devoted to Big B as I am. My father was a huge fan and so are my two sons. Any event of the Bachchan’s- be it a special day or a movie release, we celebrate everything. They are the strength behind my devotion as well. I would not have been able to do this without them,” he quips.
But building the temple was not easy. As with everything, this too had its fair share of naysayers.
“A lot of people mocked us when we started building the temple. In the beginning people made fun of us, saying that how can we treat a human being like a God. But I have always maintained my stance that if we can treat our parents like gods then why can we not treat someone else’s parents as gods as well?”
“I used to look at my parents as god. And then I looked at Abhishek Bachchan and Shweta Bachchan’s parents as gods as well.”
“When media informed him that he is worshiped as god over here, Amitabh Bachchan said he is a human and should be considered as human and not god. He has always maintained that,” says Patodiya.
People from all over the world keep on making their pilgrimage to the temple, says Patodiya. The temple premises have two puja timings, once in the morning and once in the evening. But more than daily rituals, they believe in doing good work in Big B’s name.
“During the Covid period we have fed over 30,000 people, treated blood donation camp, we went to COVID patients and got them medical treatment in such trying times. We celebrate all the special days of the Bachchan clan. We even maintain Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan’s birth anniversary by doing social work to make Big B proud,” he says.