October 11 is a certain Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday. But to an average Bollywood fan, this is more than just a great day. Though the occasion marks a special reason of celebration for a true Bachchan devotee, the day is nothing short of a ‘National Bollywood Day’ for die-hard fans. And if you happen to take a count of the Bachchan romantics, then no paper length in the world would fit the collective tally of his fans.
In the four and a half decades of his career, Mr. Bachchan has risen as the epitome of acting, the scion of Indian cinema and if there is anything like it- then an emperor who commands Indian cinema with unprecedented fan-following. His house in Mumbai is a popular shrine of contemporary strugglers and fans who flock from distant parts of the country to pay homage to the living deity of Bollywood with great love.
Seeing him, they say, is a sight that’s magnanimous and one to behold. He’s taught his contemporaries a lesson or two about how to stay humble and modest despite such a long and magnificent run at the box-office. He’s adored by the industry have-been’, loved by the younger generation of actors who marvel at his energetic vibe and looked up to by successful personalities in different circles of life. The word superstar perhaps befits this mellow marathon runner of Indian cinema.
Amitabh Bachchan isn’t versatile, he is what versatile is made of. He isn’t just a great actor, he is the paragon in the world of great acting. No other actor, since the days of Dilip Kumar and Rajesh Khanna has gone on to command such unwavering respect and deep admiration for his colossal acting talent as Mr. Bachchan. At a time when he turns 74 and when his contemporaries are either done and dusted or convalescing from some form of illness, he is still going strong akin to a tireless field marshal walloping repeated successes thanks to his brilliant exploits on the big screen.
Sometimes, one wonders why a big screen is called so, maybe since it loves regaling to Big B’s talismanic talent.
Here, we attempt to ode 10 of his mind-boggling avatars on screen in a magical Bollywood journey
The first glimpses of the ‘angry young man’ revealed a hefty character actor, a star wrapped in an enigmatic layer. A good-hearted goon who took the wrong road to progress in life, Mr. Bachchan as Vijay was the perfect antidote to the good inspector Ravi.
He was charming yet vengeful, enigmatic yet fallible. In perhaps one of the most memorable clash of two brothers on screen, Mr. Bachchan essayed with ecstatic command the anguish and false pride of a brother who perhaps knew deep within that he had done a lot of ills to reach where he did in life. The role metamorphosed Mr. Bachchan to greatness, a facet that would become his constant shadow.
He was vigorously expressive, emotionally bloated but charred by a volcanic rush of energy as he steamed on the big screen the anguish and troubles of an ignored youngster who fell to the trap of the bottle.
He was a die-hard romantic but an emotionally perturbed soul in Sharabi. He was the charming lover but also the affable grandson to Om Prakash’s avuncular grandpa in this 80s cult hit.
In a memorable part that subtly conveyed the ills of being an alcohol-abuser, Mr. Bachchan soared with an electrifying energy that was every bit as entertaining as it was heart-wrenching.
On one hand, Trishul had the charm and good natured wits of an actor who was every bit as talented as he was good looking in Shashi Kapoor, and on the other, had the alarming urgency of a man on a mission; set to make a statement to settle scores with someone who was one of his own- in Amitabh Bachchan.
In one of the most roaring triumphs of his career, Mr. Bachchan aligned an inner fury to his angst-filled exterior in establishing himself against the whims and fancies of a ruthless real-estate mogul. And thus, raised a ‘Trishul’ of triumph against those who doubted his very evident potential.
If there’s a movie where Mr. Bachchan matched the charm of Shashi Kapoor with his drop dead dapper personality, then it was Trishul.
How big could it get with Amitabh together with three giants of the Indian film industry in the form of Dharmendra, Amjad Khan and Sanjeev Kumar?
In what catapulted Mr. Bachchan’s glowing legend into an iconic status spelt itself as ‘Sholay’ on the box office. Mr. Bachchan was a bit of everything in this Sippi classic; the adorable buddy, the restrained and charming character, the notoriously pleasant gentleman and the good natured goon you’d die for. He ensured that his charisma lent enough strength to make this 70s flick a timeless classic.
Three simple letter words that rightfully convey the legendary status of Mr. Bachchan on Indian box office: Don. This epic thriller was not only a powerful hit of Mr. Bachchan’s career but a tribute to his wizardry at shifting quick gears on-screen- traversing from terse emotional territory into metamorphosing into being the lynch pin of a crime syndicate with gusto.
He made Don every bit of the cunning and pulsating action triumph that Bollywood had yearned for in those glory days.
Many would feel this to be a film utterly dominated by Rajesh Khanna in the titular role. And there’s no doubt about that. But it was the soft and comforting companionship and uncanny relationship that Anand came to share with Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee (Mr. Bachchan) that gave the film the feeler for happiness and bittersweet sensation that fans so loved.
As the simple yet reserved doctor, Mr. Bachchan conveyed the sorrow, pain and the agony of losing out his best friend in the form of Anand’s untimely death with minimal expressions. He was almost comatose in the refinement he expressed through his restrained character.
Certain scenes from this Hrishikesh Mukerjee classic have risen as golden dimes of Bollywood cinema and it is the energy and timeless bond between the doctor and Anand that gave this 70s epic its golden wings.
His presence as Narayan Shankar- the strict disciplinarian of the ‘Gurukul’ stoked a sense of panic amidst students. His calm and collected grace powered a wave of hard discipline and cordiality in an institute notorious for unbending and single-minded dedication toward academics, with there being little space for anything else.
As the perfect antidote to Shah Rukh’s romantic hurrah, Mr. Bachchan’s solid and neatly clad gentleman (Narayan Shankar) conveyed an air of invincibility and a kingly touch about his character in Mohabbatein. This was in many ways a dramatic shift in the tone of regular Amitabh Bachchan characters.
8) Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
As a jovial, cheery eyed and pumped-up notorious romantic, Mr. Bachchan punched above his weight in a truly memorable character playing ‘Sexy Sam’ in this highly misunderstood and gem of a Karan Johar movie.
He flirted unabashedly with glee, hung out with blondes and brunettes of his daughters’ age and brought every bit of laughter through utterly well timed wits as tears through his on-screen demise in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. This was a high-risk character and it paid Mr. Bachchan richly even though the film crashed.
At a time when he could have played a baddie or grand-dad to some A-list diva on screen, he preferred to play Deepika’s dad instead. And must it be said, what a commendable job did Mr. Bachchan do as the grumpy old nut in Shoojit Sircar’s Piku.
For many reasons- Piku was a timeless triumph, it’s pithy script and somewhat troubled characters notwithstanding.
Mr. Bachchan was restless, troublesome, almost childlike and cutely irritating as the bumbling old man of Deepika’s Piku.
Riding a high-tide of somewhat emotionally funny and volatile journey, Mr. Bachchan’s adorable part reminded us of the importance our father’s hold in our lives and why one must be ‘child-like’ in tending to their cuddly emotional demands as they age.
His latest sensation at the box office created worldwide ripples for its flawless acting and storyline. As an ailing and semi-retired lawyer, Deepak Sehgal, one on the verge of a meltdown- Mr. Bachchan carried the mantle of an embattled but tireless protector of justice.
A man determined to fight and fight hard for the honor and pride of 3 wrongly accused females, Mr. Bachchan struck a deep chord through an amalgam of emotional vengeance, vulnerability and a razor-sharp legal luminary in one of his best performances of all times. Even when he was hauntingly silent, his eyes conveyed his trouble. And when he spoke, his words became the cutting edge difference between hopes lost and redemption found.