Amitabh Bachchan needs no introduction. The actor has played all kinds of roles in films and has also dabbled in politics. After a successful stint in Pink, he is still raring to go.
When Bachchan began his career in films, he was written off even before the release of his first film, Saat Hindustani (1969). The late 60s was the era of Shammi Kapoor-Rajesh Khanna musicals and the lanky newcomer with the unfashionable hairstyle got the cold shoulder from producers. His illustrious surname (father Harisvanshrai Bachchan was a renowned Hindi poet; mother Teji Bachchan was a close associate of the Nehru-Gandhi family) got him an audience, but few offers.
When Bachchan returned to the movies with the Mehul Kumar-directed action flick, Mrityudaata (1997),
the film suffered a quiet death. In 1999 alone, Bachchan starred in four box office disappointments —
Lal Badshah, Kohram, Hindustan Ki Kasam and Sooryavansham.
Bachchan says he had left his job as an executive in a Kolkata firm and came to Mumbai with his driver’s license. The license was his safety net — if pushed into a corner, he says he could have always worked as a taxi driver.
Music director Anandji, who has been on countless shows across the world with Amitabh, says the budding actor was nicknamed ‘Tiger’ by his friends in the early days.
Most of his initial films were not successful. Bachchan was thrown out of a film, Duniya Kya Jaane (1971), which co-starred Rekha, and replaced with Sanjay Khan.
He shot to stardom with Zanjeer (1973), and a string of blockbusters thereafter made Amitabh a superstar. In 1978, he had four superhits — Don, Kasme Vaade, Trishul and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar — released within a span of around six months!
The true dimensions of Amitabh’s cult following became evident when the actor suffered an on-the-sets accident on the sets of Manmohan Desai’s Coolie (1983) in Bengaluru, and it proved to be near fatal. It seemed as though the entire country had stopped in its tracks in 1982, but Amitabh, then 40, pulled off a miraculous recovery.
He has a penchant for designer glares and his ubiquitous wristwatches.
Despite box office successes like Aaj Ka Arjun (1990) and Hum (1991), he chose to voluntarily take a hiatus from acting after Khuda Gawah (1992).
When he was down and out, Bachchan quelled his ego, went to old friend Yash Chopra’s house and asked for a suitable role. Yash Chopra offered him Mohabbatein. At a time when it was considered infra dig for film stars to appear on TV, Bachchan agreed to helm Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. The success of the show dramatically turned his career around and he has scaled fresh heights in the last 15 years.
Hotshot director Karan Johar says, “My mother (Hiroo Johar) always told me, ‘Karan, he is one person I have known since we were in college in Dehradun. I want you to touch his feet whenever you meet him.’ And that’s what I have always done since I was young.”John Abraham, who worked with Bachchan in Aetbaar (2004), says, “When I got carried away in my bid to be realistic and almost hit him during a fight sequence for the film, director Vikram Bhatt cautioned me to be careful,
saying, ‘Amitabh Bachchan is a national treasure’.”