As the immensely successful actor Amitabh Bachchan turns 74 today, tributes and paeans have been pouring in and there have been celebrations of his larger-than-life image. But there is always another side to every story. As he enters his Platinum Jubilee year, here’s a look back at the controversies hidden behind his squeaky clean image.
1. Accusation of sexual harassment by Sayali Bhagat
Former Miss India Sayali Bhagat went public with a statement in 2011 alleging that Amitabh Bachchan had sexually harrassed her at an event. However, later Sayali did a U-turn and said it was a cheap publicity stunt by her publicist, following which she had to personally apologise to Amitabh Bachchan. Some say she was coerced to recant. The jury is still out on it.
2. His sensational extra-marital affair with Rekha
Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha's decades-ago love story still has people talking. Their affair came to public attention when Bachchan lost his temper at one of his co-actors for allegedly heckling Rekha when they were shooting for Ganga Ki Saugandh (1978). Neither Bachchan nor Rekha commented on the purported affair, but filmmaker Yash Chopra spoke about it on the sets of Silsila (1981) in an interview.
3. Amitabh Bachchan's shell companies in the Panama Papers
The Panama Papers’ leak showed records of Amitabh Bachchan serving as director of four offshore shipping companies between 1993 and 1997. These were shell companies created to avoid tax payments. He has denied any wrongdoing. But at a time when several nations have initiated probes into the people whose names were part of the Panama papers leak, and Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was forced to step down based on the Panama Papers’ revelation, Amitabh Bachchan and others deemed ‘influential’ have not faced the heat in India.
4. His alleged involvement in the Bofors scam
Amitabh Bachchan had been close to the Indian National Congress during the 80s, and has been accused of shifting allegiances to political parties depending on the ruling dispensation or the most influential party. His association with the Congress worked against him as he too was accused for playing a part in the Bofors scam. He has also been reported to have played a role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He has denied these allegations.
5. His short-lived affair with Parveen Babi
Parveen Babi passed away in 2005 at her Juhu Residence in Mumbai after a long battle with depression. Her downfall began in the 80s after she was labeled as being ‘mad’ by the industry after she accused Amitabh Bachchan of trying to get her killed through his alleged connections to the underworld. Rumours of her affair with Amitabh started after they did multiple films together during their heyday. Bachchan has admitted in the past that he would often visit her place but called their relationship a friendship. The “affair” was short-lived after which there were denials and dismissals of the actress’s claims. Bachchan has been blamed by some for the actress’ descent into depression.