"There are people who write reams of pages in blood. There was this person who walked backwards for hundreds of kilometres as mannat when I was ill. When you meet them you can say "don't do this," but how can you stop them? It is all their affection and I'm grateful to them."

(interview with Lata Khubchandani)

The "angry young man" has now been proclaimed a deity in Calcutta. But the man who brought India to a virtual standstill during his fight for life after an accident on the sets of 1983's Coolie takes the adulation in (his extremely long) stride.

Amitabh Bachchan   Ironically, India's most famous actor could also be the poster-boy for failure. His first eleven films were unequivocal flops. Many would have given up and sought other means of employment, but the son of famous poet Harisvansh Rai Bhachchan was made of sterner stuff. He perserved. And while most actors would not have received another chance, Amitabh's potential miraculously triumphed over directors' financial considerations. His twelfth film, Zanjeer, launched him into the stratosphere of superstars -- where, for nearly three decades now, he has reigned supreme.

   To be fair, the secret of his success lay as much in timing as it did in talent. Other stars of the period -- Shashi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra -- had established a heroic archetype that was romantic and noble. In a decade that had started with violence, which had moved from a war with Pakistan to the totalitarian government of Indira Gandhi's Emergency, this gentle and kind hero figure seemed stale. Amitabh offered a dark alternative. "His aggressiveness... [was] the first instance in which no apologies were offered... Bachchan's films employed violence that was without parallel in its intensity and cold bloodedness. His best works... are distinguished by their cool intelligence and calculated fury." (Filmfare, Mar. 2002)

   But Bachchan also switched effortlessly to comedy, sending viewers into gales of gladly forgetful laughter with his performance in Amar Akbar Anthony. The rare ability won him work with the best of Bollywood's directors, including Yash Chopra, who in 1981's Silsila gave Amitabh his most infamous role, as a man torn between two women: his wife -- real life wife Jaya Bhaduri -- and his mistress -- alleged real life mistress Rekha. Film magazines had a heyday chronicling his supposed affair with the beautiful South Indian actress, detailing Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan's stoic wait for her man to return home.

  At the time, actress Hema Malini had recently shocked the world by becoming Dharmendra's co-wife -- i.e., becoming his wife while he remained married to the first one. Rekha allegedly aspired to a similar position with Amitabh, and one of filmdom's favorite scandals recounts how she appeared at Rishi Kapoor's wedding suggestively decked out in mangalsutra (the necklace a Hindu woman wears to signify that she is married), sindoor (the red powder married Hindu women wear in the parting of their hair), and rings given to her by Amitabh. After this, Jaya supposedly confronted her, leading to a termination of the liaison. (MTVIndia.com)

  In 1988, after a spectacular run in which all but nine of his releases had done good or amazing business, Amitabh encountered the first flop -- Ganga Januma Saraswati. Three more box office disasters followed, sparking rumors that he'd lost his Midas touch. 1990's Agneepath saw him reestablished as a commercial success, but his days as the youthful hero were over.

   From 1991 onward he has tended to roles specific to his age, with a younger hero playing across from him. The formula has produced super hits like Mohabbatein and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham; the upcoming Aankhen promises to be yet another of this ilk. As the founder of ABCL or Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd., he is responsible for the production of several fabulous films including Bandit Queen and Bombay. Amazingly, though he no longer singlehandedly opens films, he has only gained in popularity, and in 2000 was voted Actor of the Millenium by BBC Online voters -- beating out competition like Laurence Olivier and Alec Guiness.

   Actor son Abhishek hopes to follow in his footsteps, and in one sense he has succeeded: his track record is quite similar to his father's, before that twelfth film came along. Abhishek readily acknowledges his father's unique appeal when hoping for a hit of his own very soon, admitting wryly, "I don't think the audience would be so patient with me." (Filmfare, Mar. 2002)


Amitabh Bachchan
born: October 11, 1942
height: 6' 3"


1969 Bhuvan Shome
1969 Saat Hindustani
1971 Anand
1971 Guddi
1971 Parwaana
1971 Pyaar Ki Kahani
1971 Reshma Aur Shera
1972 Bansi Birju
1972 Bombay to Goa
1972 Ek Nazar
1972 Jaban
1972 Raaste Ka Patthar
1972 Sanjog
1973 Abhimaan*
1973 Baandhe Haath
1973 Gehri Chaal
1973 Haath
1973 Namak Haram
1973 Saudagar
1973 Zanjeer*
1974 Benaam
1974 Dost
1974 Kasauti
1974 Kunwara Baap
1974 Majboor
1974 Roti Kapda Aur Makaan*
1975 Chhoti si Baat
1975 Chupke Chupke
1975 Deewar*
1975 Faraar
1975 Hera Pheri
1975 Mili
1975 Sholay*
1975 Zameer
1976 Do Anjaane
1976 Kabhi Kabhie*
1977 Adaalat
1977 Alaap
1977 Amar Akbar Anthony*
1977 Charandas
1977 Imaan Dharam
1977 Khoon Paseena*
1977 Parvarish
1977 Shatranj Ke Khiladi (narrator)
1978 Besharam
1978 Don*
1978 Ganga Ki Saugandh*
1978 Kasme Vaade
1978 Khatta Meetha
1978 Trishul*
1979 Ahsaas
1979 Cinema Cinema
1979 Gol Maal
1979 The Great Gambler
1979 Jurmaana
1979 Kaala Patthar
1979 Manzil
1979 Mr. Natwarlal*
1979 Muqaddar Ka Sikandar*
1979 Suhaag*
1980 Do Aur Do Paanch
1980 Dostana*
1980 Ram Balraam*
1980 Shaan
1981 Anusandhan
1981 Barsaat ki Ek Raat*
1981 Chashm-e-Buddoor
1981 Dostana*
1981 Kaalia
1981 Laawaris*
1981 Naseeb*
1981 Shaan*
1981 Silsila*
1981 Vilayati Babu
1981 Yaarana
1982 Bemisaal
1982 Desh Premee
1982 Khuddar
1982 Namak Halal
1982 Nastik
1982 Satte Pe Satta
1982 Shakti
1983 Andha Kanoon
1983 Coolie*
1983 Mahaan
1983 Pukaar
1984 Inquilab
1984 Pet Pyaar Aur Paap
1984 Sharaabi
1985 Giraftaar
1985 Mard
1986 Aakhri Raasta
1986 Amir Admi Gareeb Admi
1987 Hero Hiralal
1987 Jalwa
1987 Shahenshah
1988 Ganga Jamuna Saraswathi
1988 Kaun Jeeta Kaun Haara
1988 Soorma Bhopali
1989 Jadugar
1989 Main Azaad Hoon
1989 Toofan
1990 Agneepath*
1990 Krodh
1990 Aaj Ka Arjun*
1991 Ajooba
1991 Akayla
1991 House No. 13
1991 Hum*
1991 Indrajeet
1992 Khuda Gawah*
1994 Insaniyat
1996 Ghatak*
1996 Tere Mere Sapne

1997 Mrityudaata

1998 Bade Miyan Chote Miyan
1998 Lal Badshah
1998 Major Saab*
1999 Hindustan Ki Kasam
1999 Kohraam
1999 Suryavansham
2000 Mohabbatein*
2001 Aks*
2001 Ek Rishtaa*
2001 Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham*
2001 Lagaan (narrator)
2002 Aankhen*
2002 Agni Varsha
2002 Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin
2002 Kaante
2003 Armaan
2003 Baghban
2003 Khakee
2004 Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo
2004 Aetbaar
2004 Deewar
2004 Dev
2004 Hum Kaun Hai?
2004 Insaaf - The Justice
2004 Kyun...! Ho Gaya Na
2004 Lakshya
2004 Rudraksh
2004 Veer Zaara

* acclaimed performance

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