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Amitabh Bachchan, Shahenshah of Bollywood, celebrates his 78th birthday

Rida Shaikh

Shahenshah of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan celebrates his 78th birthday today. He is also known as “Big B” and “angry young man.” Amitabh Bachchan was born on 11th October, 1942 in Allahbad to Teji Bachchan and Harivanshrai Bachchan. Teji Bachchan was a social activist and Harivanshrai Bachchan was a fluent poet.

Amitabh Bachchan was formerly named Inquilaab. His former name was inspired by the phrase “Inquilaab Zindabad” which means “Long live the Revolution.”  But later, a fellow poet suggested Harivanshrai Bachchan to change his name from Inquilaab to Amitabh. The name “Amitabh” means “the light that will never die.”

Amitabh Bachchan’s mother had always had a keen interest in theatre and performing arts. She was even offered a role in a feature film but she rejected it and reverted back to her domestic duties. She always wished for Amitabh to “take the center stage.” His mom had some influence on his acting career. While the biggest impact on him was Dilip Kumar. Watching Dilip Kumar on-screen, Amitabh Bachchan would be in awe of his impeccable acting skills. He adapted Dilip Kumar’s style and reinterpreted it in an urban context.

Amitabh Bachchan debuted in Bollywood as a voice narrator in Mrinal Sen’s film Bhuvan Shome. He got his first role as an actor in the movie Saat Hindustani. He received his first Filmfare Award for his supporting role in the movie Anand in which he starred alongside Rajesh Khanna. During the initial stages of his career, he was seen as a “failed newcomer.” By the age of 30, he had 12 flop films and only two hits. Soon after this, he bagged the lead role in Zanjeer which was turned down by many actors because it was the role of an “angry young man” that went against the dominant image of “romantic hero” at that time.

Zanjeer was a crime film with violent action. The lead role in this film led Amitabh Bachchan to his first nomination in the Filmfare as a Best Actor. After Zanjeer, Amitabh Bachchan was known to be the “angry young man.” This film was a huge box-office hit and also broke the dry spell of his flop movies. Eventually, Amitabh Bachchan became one of the leading successful actors in the film industry.

In 1984, he took a break from acting and entered politics with the help and support of his long-time friend Rajiv Gandhi. Nevertheless, Bachchan left politics after three years and called it a cesspool.

Amitabh Bachchan returned to movies with the super hit movie Shahenshah. He made his Hollywood debut in the movie The Great Gatsby in 2013. In the movies, he was starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Toby Maguire.

Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha were rumored to have an affair back in the past. Neither of them had denied or confirmed the rumors. However, Yash Chopra confirmed their affair in an interview while directing Silsila. He said, “I was always on tenterhooks and scared 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. Anything could have happened because they are working together." Many have commented on the similarities between the plot of Silsila (which starred Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, and Rekha) and the private lives of Bachchan, Bhaduri, and Rekha.

However, in 1973 Amitabh Bachchan got married to fellow actress and politician Jaya Badhuri.

He has worked in over 200 Indian films and won numerous awards and accolades during his long career. Big B has won four National Awards, fifteen Filmfare awards, and Dadasaheb Phalke Award for lifetime achievement.


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