Mumbai, Oct. 11 -- On Amitabh Bachchan's 70th birthday, industry biggies try to decode his mystique
'Zanjeer broke all kinds of barriers in the '70s'
Amit Mehra, filmmaker
Amit uncle is the God of Indian cinema. According to me, most of his films - Zanjeer (1973), Don (1978), Satte Pe Satta (1982), Agneepath (1990) - are being remade because there never was, nor will there ever be, a better actor than him.
Whenever I asked my dad (Prakash Mehra) about him working on so many films with Amit uncle, he would tell me, "I don't see a better actor than him. I visualise the role and I see only him in it." And if you see, in all of dad's films, he has played different roles so successfully, in films such as Zanjeer (1981), or Namak Halal (1982).
When I decided to re-launch our family banner, I was looking for a solid script. Also, I realised that dad had started his career with Zanjeer. So I thought, why not Zanjeer, which is a cult film with an evergreen subject. In those times (when Zanjeer came out), action films weren't appreciated as much as romantic films or mushy love stories. Zanjeer at that time broke the barrier without any songs or over-the-top emotions, while also giving birth to the action movies genre and the angry young man phenomenon. As I remake it, Amit uncle knows everything about it. In fact, he has given me his blessing.
- As told to Prashant Singh
'Bollywood should be renamed 'Amitabh Bachchan'
Karan Johar, filmmaker
My first memories of Amit uncle were on the sets of Dostana (1980), my father's film, where he used to be the first one on the sets. His professionalism and punctuality are legendary. I am still awestruck when I meet 'the' Amitabh Bachchan. As kids, at every one of Abhishek's (Bachchan) birthday parties, he used to always give away the prizes for the dance competition.
Although he was always Amit uncle to us kids (who grew up with Abhishek), the sense of reverence and respect has never left any of us. The very first day that I worked with him on Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001), I actually fainted because I probably couldn't fathom the idea of working with him.
There are people, there are actors, there are superstars and then there's the one and only Amitabh Bachchan. He is just not an actor, he defines the film industry. There's always been criticism about calling our industry Bollywood and not the Hindi film industry, but if at all we have to accept a new term, it should be called 'Amitabh Bachchan'. For me, he can never be just an intense hero, angry young man or a romantic icon; he will always be that mega-star who will set the benchmark for all the others.
- As told to Prashant Singh
'Post Mr B's success, the TV industry has grown thrice over'
Siddhartha Basu, televison producer
Hum jahaan pe khade hote hain, line wahi se shuru hoti hai!' (The line begins where I stand) - this punch line from Kaalia (1981) became reality for Mr B, when it came to hosting a TV show. We have to note that when he crossed over, the ruling mantra
on Indian TV was 'cheap and cheerful', and it was beneath the dignity of any A-list talent from Bollywood to even think of
doing TV. In an industry where nothing succeeds like success, the phenomenal performance of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC)
set a trend for others to follow.
His becoming host certainly gave KBC a force multiplier effect. There are few places in the world where film megastars have hosted TV shows on a regular basis. KBC became the watershed in India. Once Mr B crossed the Rubicon, with immense success, this was inevitable. India's television industry has grown approximately three times the size of the Indian film industry in terms of revenue. Its exponential reach now counts 140 million television households. Along with scale and resources, it offered a win win situation for stars as a parallel medium to reach into every home, with handsome returns.
- As told to Kavita Awaasthi
'A personality like him won't be seen for the next 100 years'
R Balki, filmmaker
Mr Bachchan is not a brand, he is bigger than that. He's an entity, a monument, that one has to preserve. His personality is
God-given; someone like him won't be seen for the next 100 years.
His success in the advertising circuit, movies or on TV isn't due to marketing hype, but due to the fact that he does a lot of hard work. He captured the fascination of a whole nation so much that his movies from the '70s and '80s look contemporary today. His personality is very rare, one that has worked in every decade. He had this ability and charisma from day one; I would say he has been perfect since then.
The industry would be foolish not to cash in on Amitabh Bachchan. Of course we all have, I have as well. There have been commercials and advertisements which haven't done justice to him, but whenever a script of an advertisement has done justice to his stature, it has absolutely rocked.
Right now, he's at his peak, which no doubt he has always been at, but to retain that at the age of 70 is phenomenal. He carries it off with such grace, dignity and humility. Yet, he genuinely believes he's a normal person.
- As told to Kavita Awaasthi
Fans tweet their favourite Big B movies, dialogues and films
@iconohclast: Mere angane mein tumhara
@livelydoc_zg: Yeh dosti hum nahi chodenge
@AasifOO7: Dekha ek khwab toh yeh silsele hue
@KatrinaRocks2: Pardesia yeh sach hai piya
@tashkiddo: Main yahan tu wahan
@jasmeetkr: Rishtey mein to hum tumhare baap lagte hain, naam hai Shehanshah
@livelydoc_zg: naam: Vijay Dinanath Chauhan,
Don se bachna mushkil hi nahi na mumkin hai!
@palkan10: Hum jidhar khade hote hai, line vahi se shuru hoti hai
@tashkiddo: Muqaddar Ka Sikandar
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.