An iconic actor, to say the least, Amitabh Bachchan turns 75 today. An age where most of his colleagues are enjoying retired lives or are remembered for Life Time Achievement Awards, the Shahenshah is too young and too hungry to take the back seat. After all, he isn't the longest serving superstar for nothing.
Born to poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan, life wasn't exactly a bed of roses for The Big B. When he set foot in the industry he was rejected for looking more like a poet than an actor. He started off as a voice narrator and even gave voice for audio jingles for products like Horlicks. Now we know his connection with advertisements dates back that long. He cuts across generations and product segments so easily convincing you to buy Maggi, Parle-G, life insurance or even cement with equal ease.Bachchan first landed his full-fledged role in Saat Hindustani (1969) which was his only black and white film as an actor. But it was Big B’s breakthrough acting in Anand (1971) mentored by legendary comedian Mehmood for which he was critically applauded and was straightaway cast in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s next eight movies- Namak Haram (1973), Abhimaan (1973), Mili (1975), Chupke Chupke (1975), Alaap (1977), Jurmana (1979) and Bemisal (1982). He also had a guest appearance in Gol Maal (1979) and performed a voice over in Bawarchi (1972).
Amitabh Bachchan ‘don’ various caps from being cast as an antagonist in Parwana (1971) and in the same year as a lead in a romantic drama Pyar Ki Kahani (1971). Double roles might be a trend now in the industry but Big B aced the role in Bandhe Haath (1973), where Bachchan played a double role for the first time. But it was Prakesh Mehra and Salim-Javed who discovered the angry-young-man in him and cast B for Zanjeer (1973). This movie made the bard-like-drunkard-villain into a superstar. This was followed by Roti Kapada Aur Makaan, which became the highest grossing movie of 1974. Sholay which had a slow start went on to become one of the most iconic movie in the history of Indian cinema.
But in 1982 the world came to a stand still when Bachchan was seriously injured during a fight sequence on the sets of Coolie. Puneet Issar was still a greenhorn then. Imagine his plight when the superstar of the nation hit the corner of a table, instead of landing on top of it, resulting in an internal abdominal injury.
"I was about to die but your prayers kept me alive. This debt I can never replay," he wrote on twitter.
The Coolie incident was only the beginning of a very long lean spell for Bachchan. His films were not working on screen and his venture ABCL was sinking every day.
But not one to back down, Bachchan took everything in his stride. He aggressively started signing for films, ads and TV shows. Kaun Banega Crorepati finds a special mention here. A huge star like Bachchan was for the first time meeting a common man on television. He was also promising a life changing sum of 1Crore. The show was an instant hit and Bachchan was back. He has never looked back since. Has won national awards for films like Piku, Paa and Black.
If his Superstardom came with stereotypes in the 70's, he has continued his reign at the top by staying away from them.
He could impeccably mirror issues of the 21st century constipated Bengali in Piku (2015) or a lawyer in Pink (2016). So much so that he could effortlessly be a son to his own son, Abhishek Bachchan in Paa (2009). It wouldn’t be surprising if his social media posts would be documented for us to study 50 years down the line.
He has reinvented himself time and again and in his next we would get to see him a much older self of him alongside Rishi Kapoor in 102 Not Out and a thug in Thugs Of Hindostan. Happy Birthday Big B. Looking forward to the new ones.