- Vikram Chandiramani
Amitabh Bachchan, whose publicist (or he himself) coined the term Mega star to counter the term Superstar coined by the publicist (or himself) of Rajesh Khanna stays afloat with shaan se even as all his contemporaries and even some who entered the industry much after him are considered spent force.
Every time IT department issues a notice to Amitabh Bachchan, the TV channels, newspapers and parliament take a note. The last time was when he was in Leelavati hospital fighting a battle for his life. Whether the notice was a routine move by IT department that was turned into a major issue by Bachchan or witch hunting by Congress on the unsaid orders of Sonia Gandhi for whom he is the friend turned foe after Bofors controversy is something only historians will decide.
So good is Big B (as he is fondly called, again with a term coined by his publicist or himself) at marketing himself that Black a film that has him at his most mediocre level has remained a matter of focus receiving almost all the awards including IIFA awards that are his own brain child.
Besides Black , Amitabh Bachchan has figured in the films of all the hot filmmakers including Ram Gopal Verma (Sarkar), Yash Chopra ( Bunty aur Babli) , BR films ( Baghbaan) and many more. Baghbaan brought back the glory of '70s and '80s for the Chopras but for Amitabh, comebacks are a routine. He `came back` with Mrityudatta after taking a sabbatical, and could easily live down the failure of this and several other films.
Kaun Banega Carorepati popularly known as KBC brought him back. He disproved the belief that TV was a refuse only for the Bollywood failures and went on gathering laurels. Soon he was endorsing almost every major product and service including ICICI, Chayawanprash , Cadbury's, and writing his meal ticket.
Interestingly, son Abhishek Bachchan was, for a long time, the grindstone around his neck as he ensured, after every Abhishek flop, another project that might be successful at the box office.
'Bunty aur Babli' and 'Sarkar' are two such films.
Amitabh Bachchan worked in Ram Gopal Verma's 'Nishabd' which was a washout at the box office. The movie was inspired by Lolita authored by Vladimir Nabokov that has always causes waves. Known for always playing safe, Bachchan has risked his career, life, family and the very existence by accepting the hand of friendship from Amar Singh, a member of Parliament on Samajdwadi party and becoming a part of the group out to challenge and throw out the present ruling party - Congress - and its uncrowned queen Sonia Gandhi. The other leading members of this group are Mulayam Singh (the ex CM of UP), Anil Ambani (of the famous Reliance Group) and Saharashri Subrato Roy. If this group wins the battle, Bachchans may end up being the first family of Bollywood and politics.
For now, with the drubbing that the Samajwadi Party received in the UP state elections, that seems a remote psibility.
Today, he is perceived to be on top again what with touching a nadir during which his bungalow Pratiksha was on the verge of auction because his corporate venture ABCL (Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited) failed despite innovative ideas like hosting the Miss World Pageant, in Bangalore and producing films like Mani Ratnam's Bombay and Shekar Kapoor's Bandit Queen . The company then came under debt running into crores of rupees. It happened after Mukul Anand's blockbuster Khuda Gawah in 1992, when he decided to take a break from acting.
Amitabh was being written off when bounced He back with Kaun Banega Crorepati , an Indianised version of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
In 1999, Amitabh Bachchan was named the Superstar of the Millennium in a BBC Online Poll. He is the only Bollywood actor, whose wax model is showcased at Madame Tussaud's, the famous wax museum in London .
It really was the proverbial roller coaster ride for him.
Legends are not serialized. They are left in cozy isolation with the promise of immortality.
For over 25 years, it seemed like the Big B had literally taken the industry on lease. No one has been able to rule over the vulnerable citadel of mega-stardom for as many years as he has. Amitabh Bachchan began his career with an insignificant role in Saat Hindustani in 1969. And in 1971, he played a mute in Sunil Dutt's film, Reshma Aur Shera . Then, with his performance as Babu Moshai, the doctor friend of the hero, in Anand , he proved his potential as an actor. However it was with Zanjeer , that he single-handedly changed the course of his own destiny.
He symbolized and identified with the bold, new, angry generation. As writer Javed Akhtar analysed, "People were waiting for someone to have the guts to tear the system". Slowly but steadily, he rose in stature to the dizzy heights of indisputable stardom.
He reigned supreme for two decades churning out hits one after the other, surviving misfortunes like a brush with death, myasthenia gravis, a brief spell with politics and defamation due to his alleged involvement in the Bofors scandal. His films like Shahenshah in 1988 and Hum in 1991 were propelled almost entirely by his star appeal. "I have never been able to come to terms with this so-called success of mine," he admits modestly. "I always mistrusted it. I always thought tomorrow will be a different day. Maybe it won't last. So there was no question of any kind of change. Either in my relationships or my attitude." However, he feels it was the others who changed in their attitudes towards him. They had preconceived notions. All those people who were in awe of what they thought he was.
And in 1995, when the legend reappeared as the head of his own entertainment corporation, ABCL, India's premier entertainment conglomerate, the zeroes multiplied, on his comeback film's pay cheque, to an unprecedented Rs 3 crore.
Amitabh Bachchan's performance in 'Black' although overrated, could be leveraged to bring him accolades.
Amitabh Bachchan endorses several brands and is often the butt of ridicule for this.
He is the brand ambassador for The IIFA awards and since inception, each year, awards have been given to him, Jaya or to Abhishek Bachchan.
Lately Bachchan has been in the news for acquiring land at Barabanki in UP using his Samajwadi party connection. The court has ruled it as illegal and the land has been taken over. There is a possibility that Amitabh may be prosecuted for alleged fraud over thie land deal.
Although age and indifferent health have taken their toll on the Bachchan looks, the intensity in his eyes and deep voice remain undiminished. Amitabh Bachchan is a phenomenon never seen before, maybe never to be seen again.