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Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan gets COVID-19

Ankita Mukhopadhyay New Delhi
July 12, 2020

The Indian movie legend and his actor son, Abhishek, are in a stable condition after being admitted to hospital. The younger Bachchan's wife Aishwarya and their 8-year-old daughter have also tested positive.

Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan contracts COVID-19
Image: AFP/Getty Images/S. Jaiswal

On Saturday, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan revealed that he had tested positive for COVID-19. His son, actor Abhishek Bachchan, has also tested positive for the virus. The actors, who are hospitalized in Mumbai's Nanavati hospital, currently have mild symptoms.

In a tweet, Amitabh Bachchan said that everyone in close proximity to him in the past ten days — including his staff and family — had taken the COVID-19 test and were awaiting results.

According to local media reports, Amitabh Bachchan's wife Jaya Bachchan tested negative, however, Abhishek's wife, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan — who is a famous actress — and their 8-year-old daughter have also tested positive.

Speculation on how Bachchan got infected 

Shortly after the announcement, speculation was rife on social media on how the senior actor and his son may have contracted COVID-19.

Amitabh had recently shot a promotional video for his quiz show, Kaun Banega Crorepati (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), at his house, while Abhishek had visited a studio in Mumbai for dubbing work.

Doctors at Nanavati hospital, where the Bachchans are hospitalized, told India Today, a local news channel, that Amitabh Bachchan had taken a COVID-19 test after complaining of breathlessness.

The doctors said that the health status of the actors would be provided to the public by the family, not the hospital.

An actor loved by millions

In a career spanning over 50 years, Amitabh Bachchan has acted in over 200 films. Bachchan rose to fame in the 1970s, and is credited with creating the "angry young man" persona in Indian films.

Amitabh Bachchan with Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan with Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai BachchanImage: Getty Images/AFP/N. Seelam

Bachchan had a brief stint in politics in 1985 and even made a small appearance in the 2013 Hollywood film The Great Gatsby.

In 2015, Bachchan revealed that he was treated for Hepatitis B for over 20 years and has lost more than 75% of his liver to the disease.

While loved widely for his work, the senior actor had recently faced scrutiny for his views and opinions on COVID-19. He was criticized for spreading false information on the virus.

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and actor Vinod Khanna in a still from Amar Akbar Anthony
Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and actor Vinod Khanna in a still from the movie, Amar Akbar AnthonyImage: Imago Images/Prod.DB

In March, Bachchan had said that "vibrations from clapping... would reduce or destroy coronavirus potency as it was 'Amavasya,' the darkest day of the month." Bachchan's tweet was in response to a request from India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clap at a designated hour to celebrate frontline workers.

The positive test results of the two actors come at a time when several Bollywood celebrities in India are reporting cases of COVID-19 in their proximity.

Aamir Khan and Rekha, two prominent Bollywood actors, have reported COVID-19 cases among their staff. On July 10, Koel Mallick, a star of the Bengali film industry, revealed that she had tested positive for COVID-19, along with her parents and husband.