Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Amitabh: Hero of disillusionment of young angry Indian

He will be best known as someone who defined and redefined stardom.
With a brooding look, fire in eyes and ire practically emerging out of his soul, his masterpiece roles in films like 'Zanzeer', 'Deewar' and 'Trishul' mirrored the disillusionment of young Indian of that time reeling under controlled economy vices – the joblessness, antagonized family life, corruption and price rise.

It was not without reason when one film writer rightly wrote once, one look at him on the screen and you knew: there was nothing much in life to sing and dance about.
Dissatisfaction, they say is very strong element in the life of a
middle class citizen and Amitabh's films will keep giving in
refreshing memories to Indians about the the roles he played – umpteen
times as Vijay – much befittingly portrayed every Indian's desire of
the time that man always feels that he could have achieved more – done
more good to himself and his society.
Born on October 11, 1942 to the family of noted Hindi poet, Harivansh Rai Bachchan and socialite mother Teji, he grew up with best of both the upbringing culture – western lifestyle from mother and the oriental values from his father.
Amitabh in later years once recalled his father saying, "If you don't
enter a gate, just jump over the wall". This is precisely what he did to
achieve the stardom, and of course retained it even at the ripe age of 60 plus with a finesse not mastered by many in the world of entertainment.
When romantic films and chocolate cream images of screen heroes were
going strong, it was swinging against the stream when he signed for a
role as inspector ‘Vijay Khanna’ in Prakash Mehra's 'Zanzeer' in 1973 to
record his first milestone performance. The role came to him only after
Dharmendra had rejected it. Grapevine was that with past failures, prior to Zanzeer, Amitabh was almost planning to quit Mumbai for good!

Zanzeer was his first film as the leading protagonist to achieve box office
success that earned him a Filmfare Nomination for Best Actor. The same year, he married Jaya on June 3 and around this time they appeared in several films together, not only in Zanjeer but in films such as Abhimaan which was released only a month after their ceremony. Later Bachchan played the role of an industrialist’s son Vikram in the film Namak Haraam, a social drama directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and scripted by Biresh Chatterjee addressing themes of friendship. His supporting role opposite Rajesh Khanna and Rekha was praised as his angst dialogue delivery and maneerism won him the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award – spelling a tough competition for Rajesh Khanna ahead.
Subsequently 'Anand' made Amitabh and probably unmade Rajesh Khanna.
In 1975 he starred in a variety of film genres from the comedy Chupke
Chupke, the crime drama Faraar to the romantic drama Mili. However,
1975 was the year when he appeared in two films which are regarded as
important in Hindi cinematic history. He starred in the Yash Chopra
directed film ‘Deewar’ opposite Shashi Kapoor, Nirupa Roy, and Neetu
Singh which earned him a Filmfare Nomination for Best Actor.

The film became a major hit at the box office in 1975. He did not look back since then. Released on August 15, 1975 was Sholay (meaning Fire) which became the highest grossing film of all time in India earning Rs. 2,36,45,00,000 equivalent to US$ 60 million, was another film that made his position practically invincible.

Although with angry young man image, Bachchan cemented his status as Bollywood's pre-eminent action hero, the Big B, as he came to be known later, illustrated that he was flexible in other roles, successfully playing the romantic lead, in films such as Kabhie Kabhie (1976) and comic timing in comedies such as Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) and of course earlier in Chupke Chupke (1975) .

In 1979 for the first time, a multi-facet quality of his came to light when Amitabh was required to use his singing voice for the film Mr Natwarlal which he starred in alongside Rekha. His performance in the film saw him nominated for both the Filmfare Best Actor Award and the Filmfare Best Male Playback Awards.

In 1979 he also received Best Actor nomination for Kaala Patthar (1979) and then went on to be nominated again in 1980 for the Raj Khosla directed film Dostana in which he starred opposite Shatrughan Sinha and Zeenat Aman. In 1981 he starred in Yash Chopra's melodrama Silsila where he starred alongside his wife Jaya and rumoured flame Rekha. Other films of this period include Ram Balram (1980), Shaan (1980), Lawaaris (1981), and Shakti (1982) which pitted him against legendary actor Dilip Kumar.

Bachchan has won numerous awards in his career, including three National Film Awards and 12 Filmfare Awards and also holds the record for most number of Best Actor nominations at the Filmfare Awards.

In addition to acting, he has had a flair of politics as he was elected member of the Lok Sabha from the prestigious Allahabad constituency in 1984. He hold on to the seat till 1987 when controversy regarding Bofors gun deal and his friendship with the then Prime Minister left a sore experience of body politics in him.

Bachchan’s splendid career too has been marked by off-screen controversies like his on and off affairs with fellow actress Rekha, and Amitabh-Rekha pair by far remains one of the leading couple hits till today. He was also dragged into controversy by another actress, the late Parveen Babi, who had charged the megastar with ditching him. However, the allegation never stuck and was dismissed as utterances of a frustrated woman, disillusioned with life.

Again Amitabh’s surprising success came when he ventured into small screen thorugh reality quiz game show, ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. This redfined his career and also the history of Indian television. Since then Bachchan has tasted success in many films including the award winning ‘Chini Kum’, ‘Black’ and ‘Khaki’. Importantly, opening a new vista film scripts were began to be written keeping in mind as the main protagonist.
His first English language film Rituparno Ghosh’s ‘The Last Year’ premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival on Septeember 9, 2007.
His fans will remember him passionately no doubt.


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