The legendary Indian film star has come to visit Wrocław – the Polish city which this year won the title of the UNESCO City of Literature. The actor met with the Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, this year’s Nobel Prize winner, and together with the city’s inhabitants, he honoured the memory of his father, the outstanding poet Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan. The visit of the Bollywood legend is a new step towards strengthening the Polish-Indian relations in the area of culture.
During his visit to Wrocław, Amitabh Bachchan met with Olga Tokarczuk, who had received the Nobel Prize for Literature a few days earlier. The actor and the writer talked about Polish-Indian cooperation in the field of literature.
“There are many things that connect us. These are certainly culture and literature, but also cinema – this is something we must remember especially in the context of Mr Bachchan. Wrocław recently became a UNESCO city of literature, which is why the meeting between Mr Bachchan and our Nobel Prize winner was so symbolic”, said Jacek Sutryk, President of Wrocław, who in March 2019 visited Amitabh Bachchan in Mumbai inviting him to Wrocław.
Wrocław is a Polish city where literature and culture are very important. In 2016, Wrocław held the title of the European Capital of Culture, while this year, it joined the UNESCO Network of Creative Cities as well as being named a UNESCO City of Literature. It is in this city that the Olga Tokarczuk Foundation will be established, whose aim will include initiatives such as supporting young writers.
Amitabh Bachchan’s stay was also an opportunity to commemorate his father, Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, who wrote in Hindi. In honour of the Indian poet, a commemorative miniature sculpture depicting Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan was unveiled in the centre of Wrocław. In this way, the inhabitants of Wrocław wanted to pay homage to the outstanding writer and commemorate his work.
“The city of Wrocław and the people I have met here are an extraordinary experience for me. It will be a pleasure for me to come back here. I was deeply moved by the respect shown to my father and me, but above all to my country. As I said to the President of Wrocław, I will say it again – please use me to promote this beautiful city. I hope to see you soon because I’d like to show Wrocław to my whole family”, stressed Amitabh Bachchan.
During his visit to Wrocław, the Indian star also received awards for supporting the development of the Polish-Indian relations. He was awarded the Decoration of Honor Meritorious for Polish Culture, one of the most important Polish awards, handed over to him by Jarosław Obremski, Lower Silesia Province Governor, and the Medal of the “300th Anniversary of the University of Wrocław”, which was handed over by the university’s rector.
“I believe that here in Poland, we still know too little about India. Therefore, in recognition of the contribution to our cooperation and the achievements in the field of culture, I would like to present this commemorative award on behalf of the academic community”, said Professor Adam Jezierski, the Rector of the University of Wrocław.
During the award ceremony at the University of Wrocław, Kartikey Johri, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of India, announced the funding of a scholarship for a student of the Department of Indian Philology at the University of Wrocław. Each academic year, a student with outstanding academic achievements will receive 10 thousand zlotys and air tickets to travel to India to get to know Indian culture even better. However, Amitabh Bachchan decided to increase the scholarship pool.
“My father said that – and it’s something I strongly believe in – when we educate one man, we educate a person, but when we educate one woman, we educate the whole family. That’s why I would like to increase the scholarship by $20,000. I hope that it will be used by as many outstanding female students from Wrocław as possible. For the sake of both our homelands”, emphasised Amitabh Bachchan during the ceremony at the University of Wrocław.
The joint Polish-Indian project is possible thanks to the efforts of the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of India, established in Wrocław in 2018. It is another step to tighten and strengthen Polish-Indian relations in the field of educational and cultural cooperation. There is a large and active Indian community living in Wrocław – it is not without reason that the first Honorary Consulate of the Republic of India in Poland came into being in this city. Wrocław is, therefore, becoming one of the key points on the map of cooperation between Poland and India.
“I’m happy that after nearly 10 years of efforts to organise the visit, we can finally play host to Amitabha Bachchan in Wrocław. I am also proud and grateful to the inhabitants and authorities of the city that they so wonderfully commemorated Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan and gave his son a warm welcoming. This is another span, one very important, of the symbolic bridge connecting Poland with India. Its construction is my great dream, which I am working on all the time”, said Kartikey Johri, Honorary Consul of the Republic of India in Wrocław.