Often dubbed as the â€˜Angry Young Manâ€™, Amitabh Bachchan rose to stardom with the 1973 film Zanjeer. Satyajit Ray chose Amitabh Bachchan as a narrator on the sets of his 1977 film Shatranj Ke Khiladi, due to his deep baritone voice. In 2013, he made his debut in Hollywood by acting in The Great Gatsby, wherein he played a Jewish character Meyer Wolfsheim.
Amitabh Bachchanâ€™s father, Harivansh Rai Bachchan was a Hindi poet, while his mother, Teji Bachchan was a Punjabi Sikh from Faisalabad (in Pakistan now). Initially, his father had named him Inquilaab but later changed it to Amitabh (meaning â€˜the light that will never dieâ€™), on advice of a poet called Sumitranandan Pant. Harivansh changed his own surname from Shrivastava to Bachchan (literally: â€˜Child-likeâ€™) for use as a pen name for his published works, and the name has been used for the family ever since. Amitabh also has a younger brother called Ajitabh.
Amitabh attended Sherwood College, Nainital in his early days, and later studied at Kirori Mal College Delhi. He made his debut into filmdom in 1969 by giving voice narration for Mrinal Senâ€™s film Bhuvan Shome and moved on to play one of the seven protagonists bent on liberating Goa in the film Saat Hindustani. Soon after, he starred alongside Rajesh Khanna in the memorable film Anand in 1971. Anand also saw him winning his first Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. The year 1971 saw him act in films like Parwana, Reshma Aur Shera, and Guddi (the film Guddi starred his future wife Jaya Bhaduri). In 1972, he appeared in a film called Bombay to Goa.
Rise to fame
The year 1973 propelled Amitabh to stardom as he acted as Inspector Vijay Khanna in Zanjeer that earned him the moniker of the Angry Young Man. Filmfare termed this as one of the most iconic performances of Bollywood industry and awarded him the Best Actor award. In the same year, he married Jaya and they acted together in other films like Abhimaan, which was again a huge success. He did another movie Namak Haraam (1973) with Rajesh Khanna, for which he again won a Filmfare Award as the Best Supporting Actor.
By 1974, he made guest appearances in films like Kunwara Baap, and Dost and played a supporting role in Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, which was one of the top earners of its time. In the same year, his other famous film was Majboor but in 1975, he appeared in two of the most important films in Bollywood film history: Deewar wherein he starred opposite Shashi Kapoor and the highest grossing film of all times by then - Sholay (US$60 million, after adjusting for inflation).
(In 1999, BBC India declared Sholay as the Film of the Millennium. Also in 1999 in the 50th Annual Filmfare Awards, Sholay was honored with the Filmfare Best Film of 50 years)
Next in his line of films came Kabhie Kabhie (1976) where he played the role of a romantic hero as a young poet in love. In 1977, he played the role of Anthony, in Amar Akbar Anthony, which won him a Filmfare Best Actor Award, and went on to act in other hit films like Parvarish and Khoon Pasina. The year 1978 saw him play double roles in films like Kasme Vaade and Don. The latter film won him a Filmfare Best Actor Award. Next up were his films like Trishul and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.
The 1979 film Suhaag was the highest grossing film of year but he also acted in other big grossers like Mr Natwarlal, Kaala Patthar and The Great Gambler. All his films continued to win him many Filmfare nominations for Best Actor. By 1980, he appeared in another top grosser, Dostana, opposite Shatrughan Sinha. The year 1981 saw him star alongside his wife and actor Rekha in Silsila, while other films in that year were Naseeb and Lawaaris.
In 1982 he again played double roles in movies like Satte Pe Satta, Desh Premee, Bemisal and even played a triple role in Mahaan (released 1983). While shooting a fight sequence for the movie Coolie in 1982 he was badly hurt with a near fatal intestinal injury. It is said that when Puneet Issar punched him while filming Coolie, Amitabh bowed to the entire crew for a perfect shot before being crumpled in pain a bit later.2 He remained critical for many months while his fans prayed for his early recovery. The director even changed the ending of the film and made the hero live instead of dying as in the original script. The film, when finally released in 1983 became the highest grosser that year.
â€¢ Padma Shri (1984)
â€¢ Padma Bhushan (2001)
â€¢ Greatest Star of Stage or Screen in a BBC Your Millennium Online poll 1999
â€¢ Actor of the Century Award at the Alexandria International Film Festival 2001
â€¢ Knight of the Legion of Honour, by French Government in 2007
â€¢ Lifetime Achievement Award at the Asian Film Awards 2010
â€¢ Filmfare Awards
Best Supporting Actor - Anand (1971),
Best Supporting Actor -Namak Haraam (1973),
Best Actor-Amar Akbar Anthony (1977),
Best Actor- Don (1978),
Best Actor- Hum (1991),
Best Supporting Actor- Mohabbatein (2000),
Critics Award for Best Award- Aks (2001),
Critics Award for Best Actor and Best Actor-Black (2005), Best Actor- Paa (2009).
â€¢ Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (1991)
â€¢ Filmfare Superstar of the Millennium (2000)
â€¢ National Film Awards
Best Actor - Agneepath (1990),
Best Actor - Black (2005),
Best Actor-Paa (2009)
â€¢ Hosted Kaun Banega Crorepati in 2000, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012
â€¢ Hosted 3rd season of Big Boss in 2009
â€¢ Debut in TV serial Yudh in 2014
Entry Into Politics
Bachchan entered politics in 1984, winning the Allahabad elections with a huge margin on a Congress ticket but was mired in many controversies. He resigned in just three years, calling politics a â€œcesspoolâ€. As his company ABCL was facing financial crisis he was forced to take help of Amar Singh of the Samajwadi party. He campaigned for them and also became a member of Rajya Sabha, but was caught in controversy again as his occupation was listed as a farmer.
During this time, Filmfare and other film magazines had imposed a 15-year ban on Bachchan. Bachchan counter claimed that he banned the press from entering his film sets until 1989.
Bachchan returned to filmdom in 1988 with Shahenshah, which was a box office success but failed to make any headway with subsequent films like Jaadugar, Toofan and Main Azaad Hoon. The 1990 film Agneepath saw Bachchan reclaim some glory as he won his first National Film Award for Best Actor while the film Hum (1991) saw some movement and won him a Filmfare Best Actor Award. His attempts for reviving ABCL also failed as his first produced film Tere Mere Sapne (1996) was a failure and followed a string of failures from Khuda Gawah (1992) to Insaniyat (1994). During the making of the movie Khuda Gawah, the president of Afghanistan had given Bachchan his Air force as protection2, which then turned out to be the most watched Indian Movie in Afghanistan. Despite so much hype, his later films like Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998), Sooryavansham (1999), Lal Baadshah (1999), and Hindustan Ki Kasam (1999) were also failures.
The Millennium Years
The year 2000 saw Amitabh Bachchan appear in the Hit movie Mohabbatein, which won him another Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. After this he appeared in movies like Ek Rishta (2001), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001), Aankhen (2002), Khakee (2004) and Dev (2004). His major film in this period was Black (2005), wherein he played the role of a teacher of a deafâ€“blind girl. This won him a second National Film Award for Best actor as well as a Filmfare Award. With his resurgence, he appeared in many TV and billboard advertisements. In 2005, he also gave the voice over for the Oscar winning French Film â€“ March of the Penguins. Soon, he starred with his son Abhishek in Bunty Aur Babli (2005) moving on to Sarkar (2005), Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006), Shootout at Lokhandwala (2007). His next famous role was in the 2009 film Paa, which won him a National Film Award and Filmfare Award for Best Actor. By 2010, Bachchan debuted in his Malayalam film Kandahar, a film based on the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight 814, in which he did not get remuneration. Thereafter he made his debut in Hollywood by acting for the role of Meyer Wolfsheim opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013 movie The Great Gatsby. Turning full circle, Amitabh Bachchan is replaying his â€˜Angry young man imageâ€™ by acting as an ageing but honest builder who fights with the corrupt in the Tele-serial Yudh in 2014.