Amitabh Bachchan spells magic on the screen. His phenomenal versatility and charismatic appearance have blazed
extraordinary trails in the world of Indian celluloid.
Some actors occupy the state; few rule it. Some actors hold an audience; few possess it. Some actors light up a scene, few ignite the entire film. These combustible few blaze with extraordinary factors of acting-intensity, intelligence and authority. There is a charisma apart from the role itself and when, they tread the screen, the co-stars are as mesmerized as the audience.
Never in the history of Indian movies has any single star meant so much to so many. The greatest; the towering inferno; super star; numero uno
Amitabh Bachchan continues to be the most incredible single happening ever to hit Tinsel-Town. This mass-worship was on view a few years ago when the star-of-stars fell critically ill. Thousands crowded to hospital gates each day while millions prayed for his speedy recovery around the globe. Cutting across the barriers of caste, creed, sex, colour and language, Bachchan continues to ride high, for well over a decade-and-a-half, on a wave of popularity that no star can hope to match. He seems to epitomize all the cardinal virtues that symbolize a super-man: a champion of the underdog; a loyal friend; a loving brother; a devoted father; an ardent lover-filling each screen persona (no matter how absurd) with a life-force that renders it as matchlessly attractive as convincing.
Intrestingly, the beginnings of Mr. Box Office in the world of celluloid, were considerably less dramatic. In black and white. Entering the film arena gawkily, he wandered jobless for quite some time before D.A.Abbas signed him for Saat Hindustani. A commercial bomb, Bachchans performance seemed to have impressed at least one film-maker who signed him quickly. This was Hrishikesh Mukherjee and the film was Anand. Although a Rajesh Khanna vehicle, hardcore Bachchan fans will remember the great impace his Babumoshai role made on them. Suddenly, the heat was on! Producers started lining up; Bachchan started signing up-one, two, here, four-till he lost count. Tragically, none of these films helped his career, which suddenly sank into a limbo of oblivion. Overnight the choice and the forest pool eyes became the most celebrated black symbol of the industry.
It was comedian Mehmoods Bombay to Goa that indirectly pointed towards light at the end of the tunnel for the man who would be king. A hammy comedy, with Amitabh playing hero for the first time ever-against Aruna Irani-it included a flight sequence that blew writers Salim and Javeds mind and totally convinced them about this cool dynamites explosive potential. Recalls Javed there we were seeing this corny Mehmood movie, in which the returns. Dev Anand, Jeetu, Dhamendra and Raj Kumar were only four of the heavies who turned down this negative and anti-hero role. The duo kept rooting strongly for Bachchan Mehra reckone he didnt have too much to lose and in tune with the market, played up Jaya an Pan like crazy in his initial publicity blitz, allowing Amitabh no more than also ran space. It took less than a week to dramatically blast home the real hero of this incredible, run-away success story. Overnight a new star was born. And a whole new movement unleashed.
Zanjeer formally marked the end of romance as superselling material, in its place emerged the towering shadow of the fierce, intense loner who let his fists speak of him. Mr.Cool of icy intelligence and assertive physicalness-vigorous and virile, for whom means justified the end. And flashing out this persona repeatedly with electrifying results was Amitabh Bachchan. Breaking away from the syrupy goodness of past heroes, this new protagonist-purposefulness, defiance and deliberate violence injected with devastating rebelliousness and anger-seemed to touch a chord in the national psyche, right from his first impersonation of this type in Zanjeer (1973). Playing a violence-prone cop continually taking the law into his own hands while marking time to seek revenge on the killers of his parents, the Bachchan hero, unknowingly unleashed two far-reaching movements. One, the wave of Revenge and Vendetta theme-aplot structure where the motivation of the hero centers primarily on violently setting old scores. Two the hero as an outsider. Fortunately, for Amitabh the timing was perfect. The Action film, along with its Macho hero was gaining worldewide clout. The kungfu films (with love) from the orient!) were sellouts!
Interestingly, Bachchans brand of he-manship was very different from the hijacks of earlier heroes. Their heroics were almost always linked to bravado actions that connected with the heroine. Vanquish the villain to impress or save the heroine and thus, win her over. With Amitabh there was no heroine-never has been. All his hottest films are bereft of any warm, heterosexual relationship. Woman are nothing more than obligatory ornaments. His brand of violence is different too- a mixture of the cerebral, and physical; cold-blooded, planned, intense and devastating. Today, both this theme along with its explosive protagonist, have been zeroxed yellow, often in cloaked permutation and combination, sometimes unashamedly direct. But an original is an original, while the rest, no matter how successful, remain copies! Add to that his phenomenal versatility in the commonly segmented areas of popular cinema (comedy, emotion drama, song-dance) making him a veritable one-man entertainment programme and you begin to realize why out of the13 all-time greatest hits, 9 star Amitabh! They are Manmohan Desais Amar Akbar Anthony, Coolie, Naseeb and Suhaag; Prakash Mehras Lawaris and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar; Ramesh Sippys Sholay; Yash Chopras Deewar and T.Rama Raos Andha Kanoon. (the other four are Jai Santoshi Maa, Dharam Veer, Ek Duje Ke Liya and Kranti). Is it any wonder why he was called the oneman industry and why without his recent active participation of few years ago, the film industry lost a lot of its glamour and excitement? As for replacements, a million Anil Kapoors (including Tezaab and Ram Lakhan), Jackie Shroffs of Sunny Deols put together are miles off-centre from even the lanky superstars shadow!
Today Amitabh, after a brief-and unrequited-affair with politics is back to where he belong: center-stage of movie land. Vinod Khanna may be back, Dharam may be enjoying a sizzling second dinnings and the new bratpack (Salman, Amir and Rahul) may be hotting up the bubble-gum market, but to the mass audience worldwide, conditioned for 17 long years to the grand illusion, Amitabh and Amitabh alone spells magic on the screen!