The Big Bang!
Born under the Libran sun sign, Amitabh Bachchan celebrates his birthday on 11 October. He was born in 1942 in Allahabad, as Amitabh Harivansh Srivastav to Dr.Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan. His father was a well known poet. Bachchan was his pen name. When Amitabh entered the film industry he replaced Srivastav with Bachchan. He was initially christened Inquilab but this was later changed to Amitabh that means ‘limitless lustre’, which is so apt. Ajitabh is his younger brother.
Bachchan studied in Allahabad at Jnana Pramodhini and Boys High School. He also put in a few years at Sherwood College in Nainital and Kirori Mal College. He holds a double degree in M.A.
He worked as a freight broker with Bird & Co, a shipping firm based in Kolkata which he quit to pursue acting, which paid off.
He married his co-star Jaya Bhaduri of the Guddi fame on 3 June 1973 and they have two children, Shweta and Abhishek. The latter is also an actor, married to Aishwarya Rai.
Making it Big. And how!
Bachchan’s unconventional looks – dark, lean, and standing tall at 6’2” - worked against him when it came to acting roles. But his deep voice, a trademark, held him in good stead with offers to work on narration and background commentary.
1969 to 1979
In 1969, Bachchan made his debut with Saat Hindustani, which won him the National Film Award for Best Newcomer. After this came movies like Reshma Aur Shera, Parwana, and Anand in 1971. He made a huge impact with his performance in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand alongside Rajesh Khanna as a despondent doctor, winning the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. In 1972, he appeared in movies like Sanjog, Bansi Birju, Ek Nazar, and also narrated Bawarchi.
His identity as the ‘angry young man’ took off in 1973 when he starred in movies like Zanjeer, Abhimaan, and Namak Haraam. Vijay went on to become a regular onscreen name. In Zanjeer, he played an honest cop implicated by false charges and thirsting for revenge. In Abhimaan, he was a struggling singer while his wife, played by Jaya Bhaduri, makes it big firing up his insecurities. He came together with Rajesh Khanna again in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Namak Haraam, which won him the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award.
In 1974 he made brief appearances in Kunwara Baap and Dost. Roti Kapda Aur Makhaan raked in a lot of moolah. He played the lead in Majboor, a dying man who gets a new lease of life and a prison sentence to get out of. In 1975, his movies like the comedy Chupke Chupke with Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore and Jaya Bacchan, and the romantic drama Mili with Jaya and Ashok Kumar did well. However it was Deewar and Sholay that made a lasting impact on Bollywood. His performance in Deewar was intense while Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay was not only a big earner but is one of BBC’s Top 25 Must See Bollywood Movies.
In the 1976 film Kabhie Kabhie, he plays the role of a lovelorn poet Amit. Amar Akbar Anthony, released in 1977, showed Bachchan as the endearing Anthony Gonsalves, winning him his first Filmfare Best Actor Award. A string of hits marked 1978 with the release of Kasme Vaade, Trishul, Don, and Muqaddar Ka Sikander. It was Don that won him the Filmfare Best Actor Award out of the three movies for which he was nominated. In 1979, he starred in Mr.Natwarlal and also tried his hand for the first time in playback singing in this movie with the song Mere Paas Aao.
1980 to 1990
The early eighties saw the release of Dostana, Shaan, Laawaris (popular for the song Mere Angene Mein, Tumhara Kya Kaam Hai that AB sang), Silsila with Jaya Bhaduri and his rumoured lover Rekha. He played a double role in Satte Pe Satta and Namak Halaal. These movies enjoyed large scale popularity as did Bachchan. This was evident when he met with a fatal injury during the making of his 1982 movie, Coolie. Practically the entire nation prayed for his recovery which came after a year when he completed the movie and it was released with a change in script so that his character Iqbal, who was supposed to die, survives. In 1984, his role as Vicky Kapoor, an alcoholic in Sharaabi was also well-received.
Bollywood started taking a backseat post 1984 due to his illness. This made him look towards politics. It was well known that Bachchan enjoyed a close association with the Gandhi family having grown up with Rajiv Gandhi. He won the Allahabad’s Lok Sabha seat with a high margin of 68%. His stint in politics was marred when he was accused in the Bofors scandal and was later proved innocent. He later deflected to friend Amar Singh’s Samajwadi Party.
He ventured back into Bollywood with Shahenshah in 1988 and Toofan in 1989. Agneepath, released in 1990, won him a National Film Award for Best Actor.
1991 to 1999
Hum in 1991 did well. His much hyped last movie before retirement was Khuda Gawah with Sridevi, in 1992. Bachchan went on to start Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd that was to produce and distribute movies and music. Tere Mere Sapne, which was its first production, was an average performer while its later productions all failed dismally like Mrityudaatha which starred Bachchan. The company collapsed and Bachchan reverted back to acting but without much success in movies like Major Saab, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, and Sooryavansham. ABCL also released his album Aby Baby that was popular for the number ‘Eer Bir Phatte’.
The year 2000 salvaged his situation and he went on to reclaim his superstar status. In Mohabattein, he starred with King Khan, as the dogmatic Narayan Shankar and won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award.
He also hosted Kaun Banega Crorepathi, the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, that is known to be one of the most popular television shows in Indian television history. This was at a time when most movie stars saw television as a step back in their career but Bachchan changed that perception.
In 2001, he won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance for Aks and was nominated for Filmfare Best Supporting Actor for his role as Yashchand Raichand in Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Kaante (2002) was the remake of Reservoir Dogs. This was followed by Boom, Baghban, Khakee, Aetbaar, Rudraksh, and Lakshya.
And if anyone thought he was riding on his early success, he removed all doubts of that with his widely acclaimed portrayal of Debraj Sahai in Black (2005) that received international recognition and plenty of awards. The role won him the National Award for Best Actor, Filmfare Best Actor Award, and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance. The same year in the comedy Bunty Aur Babli, he starred with his son Abhishek for the first time and followed it up with Sarkar as Subash Nagre, a ‘godfather’ of sorts.
In 2006, he played Sexy Sam, in another Karan Johar’s mega-starrer, Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna. Ram Gopal Verma’s Nishabdh that was out in 2007 saw him enamoured with his daughter’s friend Jia. Cheeni Kum had him romancing a much younger woman played by Tabu. The Last Lear in which he brought to life the veteran theater actor Harish Mishra was appreciated.
His fans saw him in different avatars in 2008, with Bhoothnath where he was a ghost; the sequel Sarkar Raj, that starred his son Abhishek and bahu Aishwarya Rai; God Tussi Great Ho where he was God himself.
He had a fleeting appearance in Delhi 6 in the first part of 2009. He played Genius the Genie in Aladin. The movie was an average success. He proved why he was a superstar yet again with his performance in Paa. He was seen as Auro, a thirteen year old child afflicted by Progeria which causes him to age rapidly. His son, Abhishek, played his father in this movie.
His might grows
Bachchan will be seen in three movies in 2010. In Teen Patti, he will be seen as a mathematician. Rann is about journalism. Shoebite will see him with Sarika and Dia Mirza. He will also be seen in Shantaram which is currently on hold.