By Ravi Valluri
One of the greatest troupers of Indian cinema is Amitabh Bachchan. An iconic actor, whose films have left an indelible impression on the minds of legions of his followers, hundreds of his fans wait with bated breath every day to have a glimpse of their idol outside ‘Jalsa’, his house in Mumbai.
The ability to metamorphose his personality is a remarkable quality of this stellar actor. The superstar’s journey is nothing short of a roller coaster ride; from being unable to get into All India Radio to failed actor and then becoming a sensational performer before hitting the nadir in the late 1990s and finally reinventing himself as TV host in the fabled Kaun Banega Crorepati. It is a tribute to the resilience of his ability and mind. The story goes that in sheer desperation he walked up to Yash Chopra and requested for a role and thus made a stunning comeback in films, beginning with Mohabbatein.
Several of his contemporaries have faded away, but Amitabh Bachchan keeps simulating and attempts derivation in a facile manner. This is the key to his astounding success. From the blockbuster Zanjeer in 1973 to Wazir a few years back, Amitabh has enacted a variety of roles. The first angry young man of Indian cinema, Big B has essayed a plethora of roles which have won him several accolades. He has been nominated on 41 occasions for the best actor category for Filmfare awards and has had the distinction of bagging 4 National Awards for stellar performances.
The trouper has been feted with a Padma Shri in 1984, a Padma Bhushan in 2001 and a Padma Vibhushan in 2015. The French government has decorated the noted actor with the Knight of Legion distinction.
He was named Inquilab by his parents, the noted poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan. But upon the intervention of fellow poet Sumitra Nandan Pant, the name was changed to Amitabh. He was schooled in the estimable Sherwood School and graduated from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University. But his heart lay in the tinsel world. He began his career in Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome in the year 1969, where he was to render a voice over.
His maiden foray into Hindi films was in Khwaja Ahmed Abbas’s movie Saath Hindustani. The film won critical acclaim but did not catapult this talented actor to fame. However, he caught the attention of the film fraternity and cine goers in the role of a cynical doctor in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand. While Rajesh Khanna the superstar of Indian cinema walked away with the honours, the performance of Amitabh Bachchan was appreciated and keenly observed by writer duo Salim and Javed.
After a series of flops, 12 to be exact, Zanjeer catapulted him to dizzying fame. This was followed by a string of hits such as Sholay, Chupke Chupke, and Silsila among others. In the five decades that he has been the suzerain of the film industry, Amitabh Bachchan has acted in more than 190 movies.
The entire nation prayed for his health when he was hit in his abdomen while the movie Coolie was being canned. The artiste was in a traumatic health condition and everyone associated with him was in a tizzy. The Prime Minister of India at that time, Mrs Indira Gandhi too called on this famous son. Such was the phenomenal popularity of this individual.
Following the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi, Bachchan contested Lok Sabha polls at the request of Rajiv Gandhi, his friend, and won from his home city of Allahabad. However he was soon mired in controversy and therefore decided to say a permanent adieu to politics.
Amitabh Bachchan is one of the most influential personalities of Indian cinema but has had his share of misadventures including political controversy and a rumoured affair with actress Rekha.
However the charismatic artiste will always be remembered for his ability to reinvent himself whenever the chips were down.
This distinguishes him from his contemporaries and fellow artistes.
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