Amitabh Bachchan was born on the 11th of October, 1942. He is one of the greatest stars, Bollywood has ever seen; he not only was the top star of the 70s, 80s, he has also managed to remain relevant to the present generation of movie goers. Youngsters can easily understand and empathize with the hysteria he used to and still continues to generate. Amitabh has been variously tagged by the press as well as his fans, with titles such as ‘Big B’, ‘Star of the Millenium’ etc.
Amitabh Bachchan’s life’s journey is an unlikely one of an awkard looking youngster who had unconventional looks and yet managed to make a mark for himself and stand out in the good looking and glamour world of Bollywood, just on the basis of his immense talent and the need he fulfilled in the changing society of his times. Amitabh has kept in constant touch with his new and old fans and reached out to them with the help of social networks, especially twitter. His comments on his twitter page are eagerly read and discussed by millions of his fans.
As a young schoolboy
With his Parents and Wife
He was born in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh to Harivansh Rai Bachchan, one of India’s most eminent Hindi poets and his wife Teji. Amitabh was reportedly, named ‘Inquilab’ when he was a baby, in reference to the famous slogan ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ from India’s independence struggle, but the name was changed to Amitabh’ which means, “the light that would never go off ” at another renowned poet, Sumitranandan Pant’s recommendation. His actual surname is ‘Srivastava’, but his father, Harivansh Rai’s pen name ‘Bachchan’ was the one Amitabh adopted when he made his foray into films. Amitabh has a younger brother, Ajitabh who is a non resident Indian and businessman.
With Wife and Children
With Wife, Son, Daughter, Son-in-law, Grandchildren
With Wife, Son, Daughter-in-law
Amitabh is married to renowned actress Jaya Bhaduri and their marriage was a media sensation of the 70s. He has two children; daughter, Shweta is married to Rahul Nanda, scion of the Nanda family and has two children Agastya and Navya Naveli . His son, Abhishek is an actor too, who is married to the beautiful actress Aishwarya Rai. The couple have recently had a baby daughter, Aaradhya who is already at the receiving end of media curiosity as to her looks.
Career: Amitabh started his career with a small role in the movie Saat Hindustani and has gone on to star in a long list of Bollywood movies.
In Saat Hindustani
Amitabh made his presence felt first in 1969, as a voice narrator in Mrinal Sen’s acclaimed and much awarded film Bhuvan Shome. But, as an actor, he debuted in Khwaja Ahmad Abbas’ film Saat Hindustani, as one of the seven protagonists of the film. The film fetched him his first acting award, the prestigious National Film Award for Best Newcomer.
In 1971, he was given the chance to act opposite the then reigning superstar, Rajesh Khanna in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee directed film Anand. His underplayed role of a doctor got him the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. He had the guts to take the risk of playing the role of a murderer so early in his career in the film Parwana which was also released in 1971. This year also saw him act in Sunil Dutt’s film Reshma Aur Shera, in a minor role. He also made a couple of guest appearances in movies like Guddi, and Bawarchi. He played the role of a lover boy in the ensemble cast comedy film Bombay to Goa.
In Namak Haraam
It was in 1973 that Prakash Mehra, after being rejected by the top actors of that time, went to Amitabh Bachchan and offered him the role of Inspector Vijay for the film Zanjeer. This revenge saga written by Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, came like a blast of fresh air in the midst of the popular love centric films and established Amitabh as the ‘Angry Young Man’. This movie fetched him a Filmfare nomination for Best Actor. His romance with Bollywood’s sweetheart Jaya Bhaduri culminated in a hastily arranged marriage in 1973. He starred in more films with Jaya but, Abhimaan that was released after their marriage, remains a landmark film in their filmography for many reasons including the excellent music, exemplary performances of all the actors in the film and of the movie story’s relevance to their own lives because Jaya slowly withdrew from films to focus on family and children while Amitabh went on ahead to blaze a successful path to superstardom. The Hrishikesh Mukherjee directed film Namak Haraam was released this year and his role earned him his second Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award.
The next year, 1974, had Amitabh making guest appearances in a couple of movies like Dost and Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan and he then, played the lead role in Majboor, where he played the role of a man who mistakenly thinks he is going to die. This film was an averagely successful film.
In Chupke Chupke
He took on a variety of roles in 1975 and acted in the comedy film Chupke Chupke, suspenseful film Faraar and the tragic love story Mili. But, it was first, the iconic Yash Chopra directed film Deewar, which fetched him accolades and second, the Ramesh Sippy directed cult film Sholay, one of the most successful films in Bollywood, which together helped to establish Amitabh’s Numero Uno stature in the Indian Film Industry.
In Amar Akbar Anthony
In Kabhi Khabhie
Amitabh continued to be a part of some super hit movies like Manmohan Desai’s film Amar Akbar Anthony in 1977, where his role as Anthony fetched him his first Filmfare Best Actor Award, Yash Chopra’s social drama, Kabhi Khabhie. Amitabh’s films usually had all the elements of an entertainer film; love, action, revenge and great songs.
In Muqaddar Ka Sikandar
In 1978, Amitabh was a part of all the four highest grossing films of that year. He essayed double roles in films such as Kasme Vaade and Don, which garnered him his second Filmfare Best Actor Award. He was also appreciated in the super hit films Trishul and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. He was now, being termed as a ‘one-man industry’; a term coined by Francois Truffaut, a renowned French director; he made the role of a comedian who was previously an important character in Hindi films, defunct. He was it all: lover, hero who could take on twenty goons and comedian.
In Mr. Natwarlal
In Kaala Patthar
In 1979, Amitabh used his baritone voice to sing for the first time, a hugely popular song in the hit film Mr. Natwarlal. Kaala Patthar was another movie released in 1979, which despite being not-so-successful at the box office, boasted of some great performances by the actors.
The Raj Khosla directed film Dostana was another of Amitabh’s hit movies which was the highest box office earner of 1980. The unusual pairing of Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh as the two main protagonists worked for the movie.
1981 belonged to the controversial Yash Chopra directed film Silsila based on extra marital relationships. The casting coup of Rekha, the rumoured lover of Amitabh and his wife, Jaya in the movie, stirred up intense public and media speculation.
The early 80s also saw the release of Amitabh Bachchan’s James Bondish film Shaan in 1980, Lawaaris in 1981 had Amitabh singing a hugely popular folk song that reached the local top charts. Shakti was released in 1982 and had Amitabh playing the onscreen son of thespian Dilip Kumar. The movie had some great dramatic scenes between the two powerhouse actors.
Tragedy struck in1982, whilst shooting for the film Coolie. Amitabh received a severe accidental blow from Puneet Issar to his intestines, which nearly proved fatal for him. The kind of collective anxiety the nation suffered during his stay in the hospital was a real eye opener, as to the regard the nation as a whole, had for him. The nation heaved a sigh of relief when he successfully combated his injury and they in turn helped to make the film Coolie a huge hit when it was released in 1983. The director of the movie, Manmohan Desai even altered the ending of the original script where Amitabh’s character was supposed to die at the end of the movie and made his character live and the particular scene wherein he was injured was frozen while screening and an explanatory caption inserted.
Neta Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh was diagnosed with the debilitating Myasthenia gravis syndrome which made him reassess his life keeping his health in mind and try his luck in the field of politics. The Bachchan family had always been close to the Gandhi family and Rajiv Gandhi was a close personal friend of Amitabh’s. But, his relationship with politics turned out to be a bitter one and even though he won the Allahabad seat in style, he realized that politics wasn’t his cup of tea and soon quit the political arena after three years. He and his brother were implicated in the infamous Bofors scandal and were only recently cleared of all blame. Rajiv’s widow, Sonia and the Bachchan’s are no longer close and haven’t attended any personal social occasion, unlike before during Rajiv Gandhi’s wedding. His closeness to wily politician Amar Singh lead to Amitabh continuing to be associated with politics through his wife,Jaya Bachchan who joined Amar Singh’s Samajwadi Party. But, this relationship has since then petered out after Amar’s exit from his party.
Amitabh Bachchan has had a mixed relationship with the media with the influential movie magazine Stardust along with some other magazines even having banned him for nearly 15 years. Though, Amitabh claims to have himself banned the press from his sets till 1989. The present media had been kind and respectful of the Bachchan Patriarch, while he himself has preferred to voice his views and comments through the social media, instead of going through the press.
Shahenshah was the much touted comeback film of Amitabh’s and was released in 1988 to much success. Agneepath was released in 1990 and even though it wasn’t a box office success then, it is considered a cult film now. Amitabh changed his voice and was shown with bloodshot eyes which perhaps unnerved the movie goers of those days who were used to his beautiful baritone voice and polished look. This success was short-lived and Amitabh couldn’t match similar success with his late films till Hum, which was released in 1991 and which fetched him his third Filmfare Best Actor Award. But, again his streak of bad luck at the box office continued with Amitabh playing the romantic lead opposite actresses half his age in the movies.
In Khuda Gawah
The magnificently shot film Khuda Gawah was released in 1992, after which Amitabh wasn’t seen on screen for quite some years.
Amitabh Bachchan used his semi-retirement period to raise a production company ABCL ltd in 1996. Its first production was the film Tere Mere Sapne with rank newcomers and even though the movie failed to make a mark, the actors were appreciated for their performances. Subsequent ventures by the company were failures and it soon was declared bankrupt.
In Bade Miyan Chote Miyan
Amitabh Bachchan turned back to films in a bid to make up his losses and acted in some successful movies like Bade Miyan Chote Miyan which was released in 1998 and Sooryavansham in 1999. But, again his other films like Lal Baadshah in 1999 failed at the box office.
In Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…
It was in 2000, that Amitabh Bachchan finally veered to playing roles that were more age appropriate and gave him a chance to act. Yash Chopra’s hit film Mohabbatein had Shahrukh Khan in the lead role, and Amitabh had a powerful and significant role in the movie.. This movie fetched him his third Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. He continued his success streak playing strong, significant and mature roles in his other successful films like Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love and Karan Johar’s lavish film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… which were released in 2001as well as the mature love story Baghban that came out in 2003.
Finally freed from the shackles of playing the lead actor, Amitabh took on different shades of characters in movies like Aks and Aankhen that was released in 2002.Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali gave him the chance to play a complex character in his brilliant film Black. The nuances of the character were so well brought out that Amitabh received his second National Award for Best Actor and fourth Filmfare Best Actor Award for this film.
In Bunty Aur Babli
In Cheeni Kum
In The Last Lear
In 2005 he acted in the hit films Bunty Aur Babli and Sarkar. 2006 was also good for him because of his film Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna that was a box office success. He was also appreciated in films like Baabul in 2006, Cheeni Kum in 2007 as well as the hit Shootout at Lokhandwala. This year also saw the release of Ram Gopal Varma’s much panned film Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag and Amitabh had to also receive his share of the widespread criticism. Amitabh also got the chance to act in his first English–language film, The Last Lear, directed by Rituparno Ghosh. He received great reviews for his performance.
2008 saw the release of the children’s film Bhootnath as well as his Sarkar Raj, the sequel to his earlier film Sarkar. But, it was the brilliant film Paa that was released in 2009, where he played a 13 year old boy afflicted with the aging disease Progeria, that garned him his third National Award for Best Actor and his fifth Filmfare Best Actor Award.
Besides English and Hindi language films, Amitabh has acted in the Malayalam film Kandahar with Malayalam superstar Mohanlal and which is based on the real life hijacking incident which culminated in a terrorist trade off in exchange of innocent passengers in Kandahar.
In Kaun Banega Crorepati
Amitabh Bachchan’s resurgent career in films went in tandem and was also one of the major consequences of his emerging popularity in television. In 2000, Amitabh Bachchan accepted to host the quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati which was a spinoff of the international TV show ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ and which turned into a huge success and made Amitabh recognizable to a whole new generation of viewers. He has hosted all the seasons of the show except for the one time when Shahrukh Khan did the honours.
In Eer Bir Phatey
Amitabh Bachchan deep, baritone voice is very much an important aspect of his persona. Though he was rejected by All India Radio during his beginning years, his voice found a better playing ground in films. His voice has been variously used as that of a narrator, a playback singer for films as well as in a music album and presenter for various programmes, too. In 2005, the Oscar-winning French documentary March of the Penguins, directed by Luc Jacquet had Amitabh’s narration.
Amitabh has also been associated with a pop album; in 1996, he brought out an album ‘Aby Baby’ with music composed by Bally Sagoo through his then but now closed audio company, ‘Big B Music’. Songs in the album were sung by him and songs like the popular ‘Eer Beer Phate’ are still remembered.
Appreciation by the President of India
Knight of the Legion of Honour
Amitabh Bachchan has been appreciated for his contributions to the Film Industry through not only his National Film Awards and Filmfare Awards, but he has also been honoured with the Padma Shri in 1984 and Padma Bhushan in 2001 by the Indian Government and the prestigious Knight of the Legion of Honour by the French Government in 2007.
At Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Amitabh was the first living Asian to be cast in a wax statue by the famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum at London, in 2000. Two more life-like wax statues were made for installation in New York and Hong Kong in 2009.
With the Olympic Torch
He also had the unique distinction to be the only Bollywood actor to run with the Olympic torch during the London Olympics in 2012 when the torch relay was held to bring the Olympic flame into London.
Through the years, many have attempted to decode the mystique and greatness of Amitabh Bachchan in their books; some of which include Amitabh Bachchan: the Legend, To be or not to be: Amitabh Bachchan; AB: The Legend: (A Photographer’s Tribute) ; Amitabh Bachchan: Ek Jeevit Kimvadanti ; Amitabh: The Making of a Superstar; Looking for the Big B: Bollywood, Bachchan and Me ; and Bachchanalia . Amitabh Bachchan has also written a book in 2002: Soul Curry for you and me – An Empowering Philosophy That Can Enrich Your Life. A comic book character Supremo, which based on an authorized use of his likeness, was also created during the 80s for the comic book series The Adventures of Amitabh Bachchan.