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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Amitabh Bachchan Birthday Special: A Spotlight on the Life of Bollywood Megastar 

So let’s rewind the time to take a look at the life of the Bollywood legend

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Niloy Chattaraj
Niloy Chattaraj
COO of Transcontinental Times, A double gold medalist engineer who covers social issues, science, and Indian history.

INDIA: The star of the millennium, Amitabh Bachchan, turns 80 today. His journey from a rejected struggler to ‘Shahenshah’ of Indian cinema is worth diving into.

The social structure and birth of an actor 

In India, the 1970s were chaotic. There was political upheaval, and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared an emergency. There was unemployment and labour unrest, and the post-independence fantasy of fresh dawn was fading. There was huge unrest in the hearts of millions of youngsters who were seething with rage for the social injustices done to them by the system.

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Press were banned, and many politicians and social workers were either arrested or went underground. Cinema was the only medium through which the frustrations of the youth could be discerned. At that time, Indian cinema was flooded with chocolate and romantic heroes. The stories were either romantic or melodramatic and never captured the hearts of the frustrated society.

Salim- Javed’s Zanjeer and the birth of ‘Angry Young Man’

Bachchan’s debut film, KA Abbas’s ‘Saat Hindustani’, was released in 1969 and immediately fell flat at the box office, as would many of his other films, like dominos. He appeared to be ready to call it a day. Bachchan was nearly ready to board a train back to Calcutta, where he had previously worked in a commercial business and performed in a few plays. But destiny had a different plan for Bachchan. 

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The writer duo, Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, were searching for a protagonist who could justify the role of police officer Vijay in their film ‘Zanjeer’. Rejected by stalwarts like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, and Dharmendra, the Salim-Javed duo, were disillusioned. Now they convinced producer-director Prakash Mehra to take Bachchan for the leading role.

Reluctant initially, Mehra agreed to take the chance, and the rest is history. The film instantly hit the masses. His anger and baritone voice mesmerised the audience. Here the is a character who is fighting for their cause. Amitabh Bachchan became a household name. He is now the ‘Angry Man’ of India.

Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic look from Deewar. Photo Credit: Twitter
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The image of Vijay came into its own in Yash Chopra’s 1975 film ‘Deewaar’, again penned by Salim-Javed, as an angry young man simmering with an intensity hitherto not seen in Indian cinema. Salim-Javed’s packaging of the Bachchan character was a product of this period. He was essentially an urban creature, a solitary born, deserted, and raised in the slums.

Bachchan became a symbol of antagonism to India’s faults, and his success led to a fall in the traditional rural romances that dominated Hindi cinema. The success of ‘Deewar’ firmly ascertained Bachchan of its status of ‘Angry Man’. Now the stage was ready for this mesmerising actor to further inroads into stardom and to reach the pinnacle that no actor from Indian cinema reached.

The gamut of roles

Amitabh Bachchan’s famed perfomance in Agneepath. Photo Credit: Twitter

Amitabh’s image was a synthesis of three components of the hero’s onscreen biography. The first was a protest against unjust societal systems that prevented individuals from engaging in and contributing to society’s growth. The second part was the hero’s desire to fill his father’s shoes because his father had failed him. The third was his great devotion to his mother, for whom he would go to any length to make her happy in life. His unflinching love for his mother bound the audience with the storyline. His iconic persuasion to mother for staying with him in ‘Deewar’, his unconditional love for her in the film ‘Suhag’, and his death on the lap of Mother in ‘Agneepath’ captured the hearts of millions. But he didn’t stay in the typecast role. 

Manmohan Desai captured another side of the Megastar. ‘Anthony’ of Manmohan Desai’s ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ cast a magical spell with his immaculate Mumbai accent. His portrayal of a failed lover ‘Sikandar’ in Prakash Mehra’s ‘Mukaddar Ka Sikandar’ brought tears to the eyes of viewers. His saga of sacrifice in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Bemisal’ brought a lump in the throats of viewers.

Indian actor Shahrukh Khan once said in his interview that no actor could perform better than Amitabh Bachchan in a drunkard man role. Bachchan acted phenomenologically in ‘Sharabi’ where he played a lonely man surrounded by wealth but addicted to alcohol. His death scenes in films like Sholay, Deewar, Mukaddar Ka Sikandar, and Agneepath can take your breath away.  

Bachchan in comic roles

No discussion of Amitabh Bachchan’s acting skills is complete without including his comical acumen. Not only did the heroines lose their professions in the film business, but the comedian also became mostly obsolete once Amitabh took over the comedic parts. Manmohan Desai must be credited with bringing out the comedy in Amitabh Bachchan. Similar to Amitabh’s trademark of being the one who battles the baddies, his comedy undoes the other.

In the famous mirror scene of ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’, the hero dresses the wounds of his reflection in the mirror; in ‘Kasme Vaade’, he negotiates with a cockroach, and in ‘Namakhalal’, he slaps notorious people on the pretext of squashing a fly. His comic timing is impeccable, and the monologue in ‘Namakhalal’ draws a peal of great laughter. 

In more than 150 films spanning 53 years in Indian cinema, this magician is still casting his spell on his audiences. This iconoclast is worshipped by people and actors both!

Bachchan, a Philanthropist 

With a donation of 15 crores, the superstar Amitabh Bachchan is the top new entry on the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2021. This list includes top donors across the globe, including Azim Premji and Mukesh Ambani. His idea of doing charity is not to boast the donations. In his blog, he has shared the description of his recent donations. 

Over 1500 farmers’ bank loans were paid off by his own account, preventing them from committing suicide. Distressed farmers were identified and summoned from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh, among other areas. Their debts were paid off in front of officials from their respective banks. Each farmer was handed a paper stating that they owed no more money.

He mentioned that for the martyrs of Pulwama, their families scattered across the country were contacted, brought to Janak, and provided aid at the hands of Abhishek and Shweta (his son and daughter).

Using his personal finances, Big B also gave hundreds of masks and PPE kits to frontline employees and police hospitals. Donations were also contributed to the Sikh Committee, which was assisting migrants in returning home through interstate buses.

During a shortage of oxygen cylinders, he purchased 50 oxygen concentrators from Poland and 150 from the United States.

As the thespian actor turns 80 today, we, along with his millions of fans, wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Also Read: Don to Mili Re-released: Amitabh Bachchan’s Magic Continues in Bollywood

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