Amitabh Bachchan can be regarded as the biggest star of Bollywood. Known as the 'Angry Young Man', he is an actor par excellence.
Amitabh Bachchan was born to the eminent Hindi poet, Harivansh Rai Bachchan and his wife Teji Bachchan. He was initially named as 'Inquilab' during the freedom fighting era. However, at the insistence of poet Sumitranandan Pant, his name was changed from 'Inquilab' to 'Amitabh'.
Earlier the Bachchans' surname was Shrivastav which Harivash Rai Bachchan changed in order to make 'Bachchan' his pen name. Since then, the entire family adopted the surname of Bachchan only. Amitabh Bachchan has a younger brother, Ajitabh Bachchan.
Often called as Big B, Amitabh Bachchan is married to actress Jaya Bhaduri. He is the father of two children, Abhishek Bachchan and Shweta Nanda. Shweta Nanda is married to industrialist Nikhil Nanda and are blessed with two children namely, Navya Naveli and Agastya Nanda. Abhishek Bachchan too married acclaimed actress and former Miss World Aishwariya Rai and the couple is blessed with a daughter named as Aaradhya Bachchan.
The Bachchan family might be the only family to receive five Padma Awards from the Government Of India.
Amitabh Bachchan holds a double Masters Degree in Literature. He has been awarded with honorary doctorates by several reputed universities around the world. In his early life, he aspired to become an engineer in order to join the Air Force of India.
He spent much of his youth days in Calcutta where we worked at the shipping firm Shaw and Wallace. He also worked as a freight broker at Bird and Co.
In 1969, Amitabh Bachchan made his Hindi film debut as a narrator in the National Award Winning film 'Bhuvan Shome'. However, his first on-screen appearance was in the movie 'Saat Hindustani', which remains to be his first and last black and white film.
In 1971, he appeared in 'Anand' alongside Rajesh Khanna. His performance in 'Anand' earned him his first Filmfare Award For Best Supporting Actor. In the 1970s only, he also appeared in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Jaya Bachchan starring 'Guddi' and also narrated lines for the Rajesh Khanna and Jaya Bachchan starring 'Bawarchi'.
During this era, his to be wife Jaya Bachchan was already a star and one of the top leading ladies of the industry whereas Amitabh Bachchan was still a struggling actor. Till 1973, he gave back to back 12 flops.
Zanjeer - The Angry Young Man
In 1973, Prakash Mehra roped him in for the historical blockbuster 'Zanjeer'. He played the character of an honest police officer named as 'Vijay'. Jaya Bhaduri again played his leading lady in the film. 'Zanjeer' became an all time blockbuster establishing Amitabh Bachchan as the angry young man of Bollywood. The film also brought in certain about turns in his life. The name 'Vijay' got affixed with Amitabh Bachchan's on screen characters. In most of his successful films he was named as 'Vijay'. Moreover, it was after the success of 'Zanjeer' that Jaya Bhaduri and Amitabh Bachchan decided to get married.
Amitabh And Jaya - After Marriage
After a month of their marriage, they had their second release of 1973. 'Abhimaan' starring Jaya Bhaduri and Amitabh Bachchan followed the success of 'Zanjeer'. In the same year, he also appeared in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 'Namak Haraam' alongside Rajesh Khanna and Rekha. The film made him win his second Filmfare Award For Best Supporting Actor.
In 1974, he worked in Manoj Kumar's 'Roti Kapda Aur Makaan', followed by 'Majboor'. Both the movies were huge successes at the box office.
In 1975, he appeared in 'Chupke Chupke' and 'Milli', both had him starring alongside Jaya Bhaduri. He also worked with Sanjeev Kapoor in Shankar Mukherjee's 'Faraar'. In the same year, two other films of Amitabh Bachchan released, Ramesh Sippy's 'Sholay' and Yash Chopra's 'Deewar'. Both the films are historical hits and are all time historical blockbusters of Bollywood.
While 'Sholay' has been termed by BBC as the 'Film Of The Millenium', 'Deewar' also ranks among the 'Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films'. Both Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri were cast in 'Sholay' by Ramesh Sippy.
The Filmfare Best Actor Award
He was roped in by Yash Chopra again for his romantic film 'Kabhie Kabhie'. He was also seen playing double role in the same year in 'Adalat'.
In 1977, he starred in Manmohan Desai's 'Amar Akbar Anthony'. The film was not only a huge commercial success but also earned Bachchan Filmfare Best Actor Award.
The following year, he appeared in 'Kasme Vaade' and 'Don'. He received his second Best Actor Award at Filmfare for 'Don' in 1979. He also agai worked with Yash Chopra in Trishul' and Parakash Mehra's 'Muqaddar Ka Sikandar'.
He went on to give back to back hits like 'Suhaag', 'Mr. Natwarlal', 'Kaala Patthar', 'The Great Gambler', 'Dostana', 'Shaan', 'Naseeb', 'Lawaaris', 'Satte Pe Satta', 'Desh Premi' and 'Bemisaal'.
The Amitabh-Rekha Controversy
Amitabh Bachchan was rumored to have been dating Rekha while he was still married to Jaya Bachchan. Their initial relationship started on the sets of 'Do Anjaane'. Rumors of their secretly getting married also went high as Rekha once attended Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh's wedding wearing mangalsutra and sindoor. It is also rumored that Jaya Bhaduri cordially invited Rekha for dinner at her house and promised her to not leave Amitabh Bachchan ever. However, Amitabh Bachchan never accepted the speculations publicly. 'Silsila' was his last film with Rekha which also starred Jaya Bhaduri . Director Yash Chopra once claimed, "I was always on tenterhooks and scared (during Silsila) because it was real life coming into reel life. Jaya is his wife and Rekha is his girlfriend and the same story is going on (in real life). Anything could have happened because they are working together."
Whereas Amitabh has always been on denial about his relationship with Rekha, she was too bold to announce her love for him in public. When asked about his denial she once said to Filmfare magazine, "Why should he have not done it? He did it to protect his image, his family, his children. Why should the public know of my love for him or his love for me? I love him and he loves me- that's it! If he'd reacted that ways towards me in private, I would have been very disappointed." She also said,"Mr. Bachchan is still old-fashioned. He doesn't want to hurt anybody so why hurt his wife?"
1982 - Coolie Catastrophe: Fight With Death
In 1982, while shooting an action sequence for 'Coolie' along with Puneet Issar, Amitabh Bachchan suffered a fatal abdomen injury. Bachchan always follows the tradition of doing his stunts himself without using body doubles but the stunt in the film caused him a rupture of spleen (an organ at the lower part of the abdomen) causing a lot of blood loss. Amitabh Bachchan not only suffered a serious injury but also fought with death in critical condition.
Huge queue of fans were found to stand outside the hospital praying for his recovery. Almost like a magic itself, Amitabh Bachchan came round the fatal condition and survived the massive accident when many already did leave all hopes of his survival. However, his recovery and comeback can be largely credited to his wife. The 'Coolie' catastrophe sealed the couple's relationship ending the 'Rekha chapter' forever in Amitabh Bachchan's life.
'Coolie' became historical because of this stunt. The movie's original script had Amitabh Bachchan's character dying at the end. But eventually after Bachchan survived, director Manmohan Desai revived the script and kept him alive until the end. Desai claimed that the man who has just won over death in real doesn't deserve to be killed in reel.
As 'Coolie' released in 1983, the film went on to become a nationwide blockbuster. Also the scene during the filming of which the accident took place was freezed right at the point with a caption mentioning clearly about when he suffered the injury making it clear to the audience about when their invincible hero went through the massive collapse.
But his health again took a toll over him as he was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis (causing muscle weakness and fatigue). During this time Bachchan became a pessimistic man and was always worried about facing failure in films. It was during this time, he decided to leave cinema and join politics.
Member Of Parliament From Allahabad Constituency
In 1984, with the help of his friend Prime Minister Late Rajiv Gandhi, Amitabh Bachchan fought the Lok Sabha elections from the Allahabad constituency. He won the seat with a huge margin defeating the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, H. N. Bahuguna. But owing to the 'Bofors Scandal' that blamed Bachchan of corruption, he resigned and also took the matter to court where he was declared as 'not involved' in the scandal in any way.
The Heroic Return On Screen
Amitabh Bachchan returned to movies again in 1988 with 'Shahenshah'. The highlight of the movie was that it was written by his wife Jaya Bhaduri and directed by his good friend Tinnu Anand. The movie turned out to be a blockbuster. In 1990, he appeared in Yash Johar's 'Agneepath' which was again a massive hit and also the film made Amitabh Bachchan win his first National Award For Best Actor.
The following year he hit the screens again with 'Hum', which not only was a huge commercial success at the theatres but also earned him his third Filmfare Best Actor Award. In 1992, he appeared in another blockbuster titled as 'Khuda Gawah' along with Sridevi. The movie did good business, however, its business in Afghanistan raised eyebrows. The theatres of Kabul had nothing but the sign of 'Housefull' outside every screen after the movie's release.
A.B.C.L. - Financial Disaster
In 1996, Amitabh Bachchan took temporary retirement from acting to establish his own company A.B.C.L. (Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd). A.B.C.L. had the the vision of becoming a premiere entertainment company covering the sections of film production, distribution, events, marketing and likewise. A.B.C.L. was the first company to bring the Miss World Beauty Pageant to India.
However, A.B.C.L. Almost made Amitabh Bachchan bankrupt as it failed to pay its dues which eventually led the company collapse in 1997. Amitabh Bachchan also had to mortgage his own bungalow in order to pay off the debts.
After the financial disaster, Amitabh Bachchan returned to acting on screen but only gave out average successes like 'Bade Miyan Chote Miyan' and 'Sooryavansham'.
Kaun Banega Crorepati - Standout Success
In 2000, his luck favored him again but not on big screen. Amitabh Bachchan appeared on the small screen with his all time famous quiz show 'Kaun Banega Crorepati'. The show was produced by Big Synergy Entertainment and was originally aired on Star Plus. The first season of the show itself became a huge hit at the 9 pm slot on Star Plus. It's said that the busy roads of metropolitans used to get vacant at 9 pm as office goers rushed back home to watch 'KBC'.
Amitabh Bachchan is still a part of the show and the show has already completed its 7th season on Sony Entertainment Television.
Mohabbatein - Comeback On Big Screen
In October 2000, Amitabh Bachchan made a stunning comeback on big screen with Aditya Chopra's 'Mohabbatein'. Co-incidentally, he played the father of his present daughter-in-law, Aishwariya Rai in the movie. His strong performance as the strict principal of 'Gurukul' made him win the Filmfare Award For Best Supporting Actor in 2001.
He then went on to work in successful commercial movies like 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham', 'Baghban', 'Sarkar', 'Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna'. He received critical praise for 'Khakee', 'Dev' and 'Aks'. One of his groundbreaking performance came on screen through Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Black' in 2005. The film made him receive another National Film Award For Best Actor and also the Filmfare Best Actor Award in 2006.
In the following years he was also seen in films like 'Cheeni Kum', 'Shootout At Lokhandwala', Rituporno Ghosh's 'The Last Lear' , 'Bhootnath' and 'Sarkar Raj'.
A.B.C.L. Revived - 'Paa' Released
In 2009, he revived his old company A.B.C.L. With the name of AB Corp and produced the enchanting 'Paa' under the banner. At the age of 67, Amitabh Bachchan played the character of a 12 year old boy in 'Paa' who is suffering from the disease 'Progeria'. 'Paa' made Amitabh Bachchan receive his National Film Award for Best Actor for the third time and also the Filmfare Best Actor Award for the fifth time.
In 2010, he debuted in Malayalam movie titled as 'Kandahar' based on hijacking of the Indian Airlines Flight no. 814 in 1999.
In 2013, he shared the screen with Leonardo Dicaprio as he appeared in a Hollywood's film 'The Great Gatsby' for the first time.
Narrator In Films
Amitabh Bachchan has been roped in by various producers and directors to provide narrations to their movies because of his deep appealing voice. Right from the 70s till now, his voice has been heard in several films. He also started off his career in Bollywood as a narrator in Mrinal Sen's 'Bhuvan Shome'. Satyajit Ray too used his voice for narration in his movie 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi'. Among the recent films, his prominent voice can be recognised in 'Parineeta', 'Jodhaa Akbar', 'Lagaan' and 'Krrish 3'.
He also was the narrator in the 2005 Oscar winning French documentary film 'March Of Penguins'.