By: Sunil Noronha
Amitabh Bachchan has taken Bollywood to places never known before. He is The International face of Bollywood to the world.
He was born Amit Shrivastava on the eleventh of October 1942. His parents were Harivansh Rai Bachchan, the revered Hindi poet and his wife Teji Bachchan (the real family name was Shrivastava but Bachchan was the pen name his father used. He did his schooling in Allahabad Boys School followed by his college education which he got in Nainitals Sherwood College where he majored in Art-which he followed by a degree in science from Kirorimal College, Delhi. After his education, he got a job in Bird and Co. as a freight broker. It was in his early twenties that he decided to make an actor of himself and moved to Bombay. Films at the time didn't fancy people as tanned as he was but he has a deep baritonic voice that filmmakers did take a liking too. Instead of getting film roles, he got narratory roles. These didn't come easy-all India Radio rejected him even with having that magical voice.
His first movie was Saat Hindustani. His career kicked off in a very quiet manner. He did win a Filmfare award but it didn't convert his career into a very successful one. The real boost in his career came with the film Abhimaan (1973) which he co starred his later to be wife Jaya Bahduri in. The same year he was cast for the film Zanzeer which put him high on the list of Bollywood actors. Hits like Deewar (in which he played a villain with a good heart all the same), Amar Akbar Anthony (1978) followed. He was reputed to be a committed actor normally doing many films at the simultaneously. He was disciplined, punctual and one actor that wouldn't go on an ego trip.
He had his share accidents on set too. During the shooting of Coolie (1983) on set, he was injured with intestine rupture. It was during this period of treatment that his demi god status was known. People showed how much they revered the man. They gave blood. They held prayers for him. He recovered and came out of the injury.
During the same time, Amitabh Bachchan was pushed into politics by to-be-prime minister and friend Rajiv Gandhi. He won a seat to the Indian Parliament. After three years as a politician, he gave up his seat after being named in the Bofors scandal that dogged the government. The following years were not as good going as the previous years were and he took a hiatus in '92.
Five years later he came back in Mrityudaata but didn't stage a strong enough comeback. He saved his standing in the film community with his performance in Bade Miyan Chote Miyan the following year. The success of the movie was not very long lasting and then followed a string of flops until Mohabbatein happened which boosted his ratings-before that he had outstanding loans to the tune of 90 crore due to the failure of his company ABCL. He was offered the role of the host of the Indian version of the British television show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? which was launched as Kaun Banega Crorepati?. KBC, at it was popularly known, immortalized his baritone and the lines "Lock kar diya jaye?". He was a household name. His success was followed by Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham...,Lakshya, Black which the highest point that his career had reached when it took aff again.
He went on and conquered everything that he undertook. He was the first and only Indian to have a wax bust of himself at Madame Tassauds in London. He has won the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. His total haul of Filmfare Awards has reached fourteen. But he is more than just an award winning actor. He symbolises the Indian Film Industry in principle. He is the only and ever baadshah of cinema who has taken Bollywood to such heights. We know him and the world knows him as the Big B for a very valid reason-because he is truly epitome of the Indian Film industry.