The newborn girl in Bollywood's first family resembles her mother Aishwarya Rai, revealed the proud grandfather Amitabh Bachchan hours after he brought the new member of the family to their bungalow in suburban Mumbai. "A newborn's features always keep changing, but I felt she looked like Aishwarya," he said.
He was sitting beside his actor son Abhishek — both men dressed in sparkling white kurta-pyjamas — at a press conference in the open courtyard at the Amitabh Bachchan Corporation office in Juhu on Tuesday evening.
The 38-year-old new mother and her as-yet unnamed baby girl, born on the morning of November 16, were discharged from Seven Hills Hospital at 3.30pm and brought to the Bachchan residence at Jalsa, located in the suburb of Juhu.
The baby was first taken to Prateeksha, the family's second residence in Juhu, to seek the blessings of her grandfather's late parents, the poet Harivansh Rai and Teji Bachchan. "Like they say, life changes when a new person comes into your home. Lakshmi [the Goddess of Wealth] has come to our house. We are all happy," said Bachchan.
The couple once lived in the bungalow, metres from the Bachchan corporation office. "We also have a small temple in the house and according to our family tradition, we took her there also," he said.
The new dad had launched a Twitter appeal, asking for name suggestions for the newborn. The child has been nicknamed Beti B, as per a friend's suggestion.
Amitabh, who completed the fifth season of the popular TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati last week, calls the baby "little one".
"All suggestions are welcome and we are receiving so many already," he said. He added that there was just one stipulation. "Aishwarya and Abhishek want the baby name to start with 'A'." Twitter fans have suggested Abirai, Ashwa, Anjal, Anika, Abiwarya and Ambia.
The baby girl, carried by her grandfather from the hospital ahead of her parents, is the 69-year-old veteran actor's third grandchild. Bachchan and his actress-politician wife Jaya became grandparents in 1997 when their daughter Shweta, who married into the Delhi-based industrialist family of Nandas, gave birth to a daughter, Navya Naveli, who was later followed by a son, Agastya.
Bachchan also praised his daughter-in-law Aishwarya for showing the courage to make the unusual decision to opt out of a C-section and go for a natural delivery - which stretched over two days - without any painkillers.
Earlier, speculative news reports had said Aishwarya opted for a C-section, with 11.11.11 as her date of delivery. However, Bachchan had laughed them off on Twitter.
"Aishwarya wanted a normal delivery. She did not use any epidural injections or any painkillers."
A beaming Abhishek said: "Ash is tired and very happy. The baby is very sweet and obedient. She does not cry much. I think the best blessing that a child can get is that the entire family was there when she was born. Both my parents and my in-laws were present."
Although he has a new film, Players, due out in early January, Abhishek said he would have more than enough time in his film schedule to devote to his daughter.
"I am the child of two actors," he said. "Neither of them had any problem spending time with me. I do not remember any occasion - school-day functions, plays, sporting activities - when my father and mother were not there for me. I never felt lack of parents' love while growing up. I had very good training from my parents. I think I will be able to cope," he said.
Senior Bachchan thanked the media for showing restraint in its coverage of the pregnancy and birth and respecting the family's privacy. He continued to deny reports he had any role in censoring the coverage in the form of a detailed circular issued to media ahead of the birth.
"I had no role to play in media underplaying the event," he said. "It was the Broadcast Editors Association that had decided that way. I had never told anyone at the Information & Broadcasting Ministry."
Media restraint was set aside during the press conference, however, as TV crews and photographers jostled to catch every word from the actors, trampling a portion of the well-maintained garden.
A fresh round of chaos prevailed minutes after the Bachchans finished addressing the media, when two street urchins who had clambered upon the three-metre-high wire mesh fence yelled "Aishwarya!"
Media crews, who had been packing up their equipment, rushed to catch a glimpse of the new mother inside the house. Dressed in a peach-coloured salwar-churidar and visibly tired, Aishwarya and her husband obliged the media with a much-awaited photo-op. However, pictures of the newborn, tweeted Amitabh Bachchan, are "not going to happen".
"Too personal ... you will understand ... thank you."