Amitabh Bachchan has brought happiness to millions. His movies and TV shows continue to entertain us even though he is nearly 78 years old. We forget, however, how challenging it has been for him to reach where he is and the hard work that goes into every performance he gives.
Early in his career, Bachchan was rejected by All India Radio for having a bad voice! He was then rejected as an actor from many movies until he got his first break in the movie “Saat Hindustani” in 1969. He immediately got an award for “best newcomer” but this first movie was followed by 12 “flops”. At age 30 (in 1972) some in Bollywood began to refer to him as the “failed newcomer” and his future as an actor was uncertain.
Bachchan persisted. He was supported by his family, especially his mother, Tej. In 1973 Bachchan got a major break. The screenwriters Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar had written the script for, what was then considered, a violent movie. Many established actors declined the lead role. Fortuitously, Salim-Javed met Bachchan and were convinced he was the perfect actor for their movie, “Zanjeer”. The movie was a big hit and Bachchan obtained several leading roles in the best movies made in the 1970s.
Life took another turn in 1982 when Bachchan was badly injured while filming a stunt scene in Bangalore. He ruptured his spleen and was in a critical condition. While he eventually recovered, this serious injury made him think about other activities and contributions. He entered politics and in 1984 was elected as a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) but within three years Bachchan resigned. In a 2016 interview, he talked about his experience as a politician, “There are many promises that one makes during an election campaign when you seek votes from people. My inability to keep those promises hurts. If there is anything that I regret, then it is that I made a lot of promises but I wasn’t able to fulfill them.”
In 1996 Bachchan faced fresh challenges when he promoted the media company, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation, Ltd. (ABCL). As a business ABCL failed miserably and Bachchan was personally in extreme financial distress. Bachchan had to re-start his acting career and began the long and hard road back to financial stability and success. Bachchan realized that “My job is to be on camera and deliver my good. I don’t want to divert my attention.”
In 2000 Bachchan began hosting the TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). His easy style and friendly demeanor won him a new generation of young fans. Bachchan also took on a greater variety of roles and his superb acting shines out from critically acclaimed movies such as Piku and Black.
Bachchan has been involved in many philanthropic causes. He has been the UNICEF goodwill ambassador for polio eradication and supported the ‘Save Our Tigers’ campaign. Presently he provides support towards spreading awareness of face masks and social distancing to combat Covid-19.
While he is no longer young, Bachchan is still energetic about the future. He says, “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 still to be explored.”
© Kaikhushru Taraporevala