Birthday Special: The secret behind Amitabh Bachchan’s valour at 76, still as fierce as Khudabaksh


Dhaai din ki dopahari, chaand raat amavas ki, sheesham ke ghode pe hoke savaar, aayegi shaamat gunehgaaron ki” – at 76, Amitabh Bachchan is wielding swords, battling enemies and delivering cutting dialogues as the aforementioned with valour equivalent to his performance in blockbusters such as Zanjeer, Sholay or Shahenshah, three decades ago. Hence, the fact that Big B, even at his age, is capable of administering “shaamat” on not just his rivals in his upcoming film Thugs Of Hindostan but also his contemporaries and the preceding generation shouldn’t sound like an exaggeration.

For those who are aware of Big B’s journey in the film industry, are seemingly aware of the fact that it hasn’t been an easy path at all. Uncertainty followed the actor from the start while success and failure chased him in close cooperation. As he turns a year older today, it’s a good day to celebrate the actor for his magnanimity and brilliance on screen and off it as well.

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(A file photo of Amitabh Bachchan. Image Courtesy: Big B's blog)

Like almost every aspiring actor, Big B arrived in Mumbai with his own set of dreams but reality turned out to be starkly different. After multiple auditions and subsequent rejections, Big B made his debut with Saat Hindustani in 1969 and appeared in films such as Pyar Ki Kahani and Bombay To Goa, and also starred in a supporting role in Rajesh Khanna’s Anand in the seventies before emerging as an indomitable star with Zanjeer in 1973.

After Zanjeer’s release, the universe identified another superstar apart from Rajesh Khanna – Amitabh Bachchan had arrived and so did his consecutive hits such as Abhimaan, Deewaar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Laawaris and Namak Halaal. Until the early eighties, Big B didn’t even stop for a breath with him starring in over five films every year but in 1983, he did. And did so, quite literally.

    (Amitabh Bachchan in a still from Deewaar)

Big B survived an almost fatal accident on the set of Coolie as the world prayed for his recovery. The incident, to say the least, was scary enough as the actor had admitted in an exclusive interview to an eminent journalist on a news channel.

“I went into almost a haze and a coma-like situation. Within five days of coming into Breach Candy, I had another surgery and didn't come out of that one for a very very long time and I was clinically dead for a couple of minutes. Then Dr Wadia, who looked after me and is an absolute life-saver, just said "I'm going to take a last chance" and he started pumping cortizone injections into me one after another almost, 40 ampules of it, with the hope that something would happen and then I got revived," Big B had said.

The accident, thus, was a major setback as Big B had to endure the wrath of it at the pinnacle of his career but he certainly didn’t resign himself to fate and resumed filming after his recovery. Mard, Shahenshah, Agneepath and Hum were his notable films in the following decade but failure, soon after, intervened as his films such as Ajooba, Indrajeet and Insaniyat among several others failed to do well subsequently.

With his production venture, Amitabh Bachchan Corporate Limited’s (ABCL) deterioration in the 90’s, Big B reportedly found himself in huge debt and went bankrupt. Things weren’t looking great for him at all and it most certainly, was a trying phase for the actor – but it was filmmaker Yash Chopra with the help of whom Big B saw light at the end of the tunnel in 2000 as he was cast in Mohabbatein that catapulted him on the road to success.

    (Amitabh Bachchan in a still from Mohabbatein)

Moreover, Big B resurrected his career by accepting an offer of anchoring the game show Kaun Banega Crorepati the same year and with its immense success, the star reawakened the entire spirit of Amitabh Bachchan.

(Amitabh Bachchan in a still from Kaun Banega Crorepati. Image Courtesy: Big B's blog)

It should, thus, be fairly simple to ascertain that the thoroughfare, for Big B, has ranged from peaks and valleys precisely why he has progressed through the path with gratitude and sheer grit. In Big B’s words, it sounds something like this: “I’d like to believe that tomorrow is another challenge for me. I’m sure there is lots more for me to do because there is lots and lots of stuff still to be explored.”

Big B, in fact, has aged gracefully but with conditions – not that he chose to play the role of a student at 40 or portray a character on celluloid that basically doesn’t fit him – instead opted for challenging roles. Be it 12-year-old Auro with the genetic disease Progeria in Paa or a 60-year-old man seeking love in a woman almost half his age in Cheeni Kum or the stubborn father in Piku, Big B has floored us throughout and is continuing to do so – did you just forget about his Khudabaksh in the Diwali bonanza Thugs Of Hindostan?

    (Amitabh Bachchan in a still from Thugs Of Hindostan)

We certainly can’t wait to watch him in Thugs and his upcoming projects Badla and Brahmastra as well.

Happy Birthday, Amitabh Bachchan!