Everlasting spring @ 70
Those grey hairs and white beard symbolize something. It says age is not a barrier to do something worth and no need to colour it black to show young. It’s true this great actor of Indian film industry has only polished his acting experiences as years passed by. Also, never did he hide behind an artificial face. Instead, he showed what actually he was, developed a distinct style of his own and still remains a style icon for millions of his followers all over the world. It’s none other than star of the millennium, Amitabh Bachchan whom we fondly call, ‘Angry young man’ of Indian film industry. It’s told, where Big B stands, line starts from there. Yes, he has made a distinct finger print in Indian film industry and broke the silent image of Indian heroes on screen. While he is stepping towards his 70’s he has contributed a lot to Indian film industry and still says, ‘Miles to go before I sleep’. Yes, every fan of Big B knows, many surprises are still in his gift box!
His amazing journey started as a voice narrator
He rented his voice for the first time for Mrinal Sen’s award winning film Bhuvan Shome in the year 1969. His long journey in Bollywood after that belongs to him only. Now it has reached 43 years. He started his film career as an actor in the year 1970 in the film ‘Saat Hindusthani’ directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas – the story which tells about 7 young men. It was the debut of Malayalam actor Madhu as hero (to Bollywood) and Amitabh did a supporting role. When he appeared in that film he was a dark, tall and slim man with deep voice and deep eyes. He was not at all stylish and resembled an art hero a lot. The film flopped at box office without making any impact on audience, but he was awarded as the best new comer in the National awards. But no one even imagine that the son of the great poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan is going to rein the whole Indian film industry as true Emperor. Also, his powerful voice for which he is known most was rejected by the All India Radio and many people asked him to change his name too! He was asked several times to soften his hard voice. Yet, he remained what he was! Now also, he is rendering his deep, baritone voice to many films as a narrator.
Early career was a stone path
Through his second film Anand, though he played a memorable role of Dr.Bhaskar Banerjee whom Rajesh Khanna’s character calls ‘Babu Moshaye’, he had to struggle a lot to stay in Bollywood. He even played a negative role in Parwana followed by a series of flops. That time Rajesh Khanna was the reigning star of Bollywood and ‘Zanjeer’ directed by Prakash Mehra gave him a powerful comeback to Bollywood. In between, he did some small roles in Guddi, Reshma aur Shera, Bombay to Goa and narrated ‘Bawarchi’. But with the release of Zanjeer, he gave a new image to heroes in Indian screen and after that, he never turned back. Inspector Vijay Khanna – the role played by him in that movie is still considered as a trendsetter to Bollywood movies. He conquered each and every milestones of success winning him the title, ‘The second superstar of Bollywood’.
He overpowered Rajesh Khanna
When he joint the industry, Rajesh Khanna had already become the first superstar of India with his platinum jubilee hit, ‘Aradhana’. Also sweet smiling romantic heroes were reigning Bollywood that time. Rajesh khanna was enjoying great stardom when Amitabh Bachchan created an image and style of his own and changed the flow and trend of Bollywood films. Romantic era transformed itself to action era with a string of action hits, most of them stared Amitabh Bachchan as hero or second hero. Rajesh Khanna who couldn’t change according the demanding audience or situation fell somewhere giving his throne to next superstar of Bollywood. Rise and fall of that great superstar was so spontaneous and unpredicted and most blames, obviously fell on Amitabh. Yet, he stood still as a big mountain, creating versatility and variations in each role he played to get out of the tag that ‘Amitabh is only an action hero’. He did serious roles in films like Abhiman and Mili, where he was paired opposite his wife, Jayabadhuri and later a string of comedy movies like Chupke chuke and Amar Akbar Antony. Through these movies, he proved himself to be a good comedian too. His commanding power over dialogues, comedies and spontaneous acting made him a versatile hero in Bollywood. Both these superheroes worked again for the second and last time in the movie ‘Namak Haram’. Again, this film was a story of friendship similar to the movie, Anand. But again they drifted away slowly towards extreme poles. That may be the reason why, when Rajesh Khanna passed away, most discussed topic was Amitabh Bachchan’s visit to Asirwaad and the change of baton from the first superstar to the second.
Though Villain, given hero image
It’s through his films for the first time where underground dons were given a star image – from 1978 movie Don to 2005 movie Sarkar. Many such films have followed that path. 1991 blockbuster Hum also falls in the same category. People loved to see him onscreen either as hero or anti-hero. In 2002 movie Ankhein, he did a negative role. He did Gabbar Singh’s role when Ram Gopal Varma made Sholey again as ‘Aag’. It can be said that he laid the basement stones of his ‘don’ image in the movie Zanjeer itself. After that we have seen Deewar and Don. So, it can said to be a slow transformation from angry young man to angry don and gradually traveling forward reaching god father image through the movie ‘Sarkar’. This gradual transformation was accepted by audience itself and that’s the reason why they are able to see and visualize him in those roles as if he was developing from one change to the next. That’s why new version of Don or Agnipath couldn’t make that old impact on audience. May be because they were not able to properly co-ordinate actor with the corresponding role played! Even he tried to keep a single name for most films. In 17 films, Vijay was his character name.
Coolie marked a temporary diversion towards politics
No Big B fan can ever forget those events associated with the movie Coolie (1982). During the picturisation of an action sequence, he was deeply wounded and his condition was very critical. He was hospitalized for months and his fans all over the world spend those days in prayers. When he returned back, director Manmohan Desai altered the climax and rewrote it. In the first screenplay, Amitabh was to die in the climax. But as he has gone through that phase during the shooting of the film, director didn’t want to repeat it again. It was a smash hit. It was well marketed also.
After this movie, he got attached to Nehru family in the year 1984 which paved him a new path to political field. He won against H.N.Bahuguna, former Chief Minister of UP and reached the parliament. But his honeymoon with politics was only short and completely detached himself from political field after 3 years.
Return to film field through Shehanshah in 1988
Due to hype given before the release of the movie, it was a super hit and marked a new beginning of Big B’s career. Yet, sweet of his success was not too long. He got his first national award for best performance as an actor for the movie, Agneepath (1990). Though 1991 movie, Hum was a hit, ‘Khuda Gawah’ and a few more movies flopped at box office. He began to notice that it’s not an era of heroes with over makeup and die to hide the age.
The past Jupiter year well polished the super star
He again started his new ‘Avatar’ in Bollywood according to his age. In 1999, he did the double role of father and son in the movie –Sooryavansam, accepting himself the change of time. This movie was a box office hit too. It was through Mohabatein he decided to stay in his real age. Same year, it marked the debut of his son Abhishek Bachchan on the silver screen too. In the new form, we saw him as a good father in many movies like Mohabatein, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam, Sarkar, Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna, Babul, Bhootnath and Malayalam movie Kandahar. Also he showed his versatility and flexibility in handling variety roles in a string of movies like Paa, Black, Nishabd, Ekalavya, Dev, Kaaki and Ankhen.
He shares the record of most number of National awards for best actor along with Kamal Hassan and Mammootty. Though he gained more popularity during 70’s and 80’s, he grew as an actor during 90’s and 2000’s. Till now he got three national awards for best performance and all belong to his late years. He got his first one for his wonderful performance in Agneepath of 1990. The next two awards belong to his 60’s – Black and Paa. This shows that he was learning new lessons of acting and did experimenting with his potential and talents and growing age has made him more mature only. Most surprising is that he is still active and remains as a style icon among his fan followers.
Through Nishabd and Cheeni Kum, he showed that he has not lost his potential to handle romantic movies too. ‘The last Lear’ directed by Rithuparna Ghosh gave him another milestone in his acting career.
How he survived the bad phases of life
During 1996, he started a film company, ABCL to promote new talents. ‘Tere mere sapne’ was the first movie produced under this banner. But Miss.World controversies of 1997 caused a huge loss to his company, as it was the main sponsor of Beauty pageant and he lost millions. Everyone thought he was finished for ever. But he survived and returned back as a phoenix bird from ashes and what we saw after that, was more matured, more efficient and more active Amitjee and he still stands there giving new generations many lessons to follow.
Year 2000 was the real turning point of his second innings of his career. Not only he decided to do roles fitting his age, he gained a lot of popularity through the TV show – Kaun Banega Crorepathi. It has past many series and though Shah Rukh Khan tried his best, he couldn’t reach the impact made by Big B over his fans. Now also, it’s considered to the most popular TV program of the past Jupiter year and still now, it’s progressing towards next steps of success. Also, he is busy chatting with his fans through his blog and twitter. He is a brand ambassador for many products in Indian market.
His versatility made him the real star
No doubt, he has established himself as the most versatile actor of Indian silver screen. His flexibility in handling roles, attempt to do new experiments, powerful voice and voice quality, super command on detection, a special signature for every comic roles and super onscreen chemistry with heroines made him the popular star and most paid actor of Indian screen. He is an actor well known for his dialogues. He gained all not just in 1 day or 2, but through gradual transformations he has done over the years. Also, the most important fact is that he never used his father's name anywhere to get a role or any other benefits even when his films flopped one after another in a series. He has always taken criticisms in a positive way, improving himself better. Whether it’s Jaya, Rekha, Parveen Babi, Reena Roy, Rakhi, Seenat Aman, Hema Malini or Neethu Singh, he has made super onscreen pairs on silver screen. Kishore Kumar’s voice and Laxmikanth-Pyarelal and Khayam’s compositions have given some excellent songs to Bollywood. Kabhi Kabhi and Oh Sathi re will remain evergreen as long as this world and Hindi cinema exists. His eyes hold some deep magic and mesmerizing power to bind people towards him. It’s nothing but his versatility and real acting skills which attract we people towards him even at his 70’s. Also, through films like Anand and Sholey he recreated new meanings of true friendship. Age is not a barrier. Through a lengthy career of more than 42 years, he is conveying that message to we, his followers.
What we expect from him at his 70’s
It’s true he has contributed a lot to Indian film industry, especially with different colours, shades and roles of his acting career. He has done almost every dream role that an actor loves to do on screen. Yet, as I told earlier, we can’t expect what arrow he is going to throw next time. May be another surprise or another role, as an actor, social worker or something else! But it’s sure he will give a distinct colour for each role he plays. May God bless him with good health, good career and a lot of good surprises yet to happen. It’s my humble effort to go through all the phases of his acting career and remarkable achievements. I know well, a few words can’t describe that genies as I know, he is that one person for which every Indian feel proud of!
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