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Amitabh Bachchan leads star alumni to pool in Rs 7 crore to renovate crumbling college auditorium

B-Town top guns pool in Rs 7 crore to fund Delhi alma mater Kirori Mal's theatre

Ali Abbas Zafar and Amitabh Bachchan at the alumni meet of Kirori Mal College in Juhu yesterday. Pic/Sneha Kharabe
Ali Abbas Zafar and Amitabh Bachchan at the alumni meet of Kirori Mal College in Juhu yesterday. Pic/Sneha Kharabe

The auditorium of Delhi's Kirori Mal College has been witness to debut performances of top Bollywood names, including superstar Amitabh Bachchan, character artist Satish Kaushik and filmmakers Kabir Khan and Vijay Krishna Acharya among others. However, over the last few years, the theatre had been in a shambles, seeking an urgent facelift.

Recently, veteran actor-filmmaker Satish Kaushik, an alumnus of the college, got the industry's top guns to pitch in for their alma mater's renovation. "It was disheartening to see the auditorium in a dilapidated state. Some time ago, the college [authorities] decided to raze it. I spoke to the current principal about it and we decided to raise funds," he explains.

The first name that came to Kaushik's mind was that of Bachchan's. "He is our torch bearer and was gracious enough to lend support (to the initiative). In fact, it was Amitji who came up with the idea of making a video with the star alumni appealing for funds. He also agreed to visit the college in April," he informs.

The cost of renovation is pegged at Rs 7 crore, and the college has hired a renowned architect for the purpose. The design has been finalised too. "We plan to convert it into a state-of-the-art auditorium and name it after one of our professors, Frank Thakurdas, who was instrumental in shaping our careers. We also intend to raise money through other means. Proceeds from some of my plays in Delhi will go into rebuilding the theatre. I have also requested Anupam Kher to do the same."

At an event held in the city yesterday, Bachchan revealed he has donated Rs 51 lakh to the cause. "I studied science at Kirori Mal from 1959-62, but Prof Thakurdas, who taught us English, encouraged me to pursue theatre. Those years of learning have stayed with me and help me till date. I have seen the condition of the theatre where I performed and it is really sad. That's why we have joined hands to resurrect it."

Sultan director Ali Abbas Zafar, who also graduated from Kirori Mal, says, "Our professor, Keval Arora, has been addressing this issue for a while and we want to assure them [authorities] that we are joining in." Zafar has planned a few musical shows to garner funds: "The music of all three of my films (Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Gunday and Sultan) is popular. I am requesting artistes to come together for a concert of sorts at the college to raise funds."

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