2019 marks a significant milestone for Amitabh Bachchan who has completed 50 years as an actor in Bollywood. He made his debut at the age of 27 with the film Saat Hindustani. His now famous baritone voice was once rejected by All India Radio and none of his solo films worked until 1973, when at the age of 31, his first big hit Zanjeer established him as the Angry Young Man of Bollywood.
His onscreen transformation over the years is proof of his evolution as an actor. He played a cop multiple times in the initial few years of his career, moving on to the suave crook in Don and the grey character Vijay in the Yash Chopra’s Deewar. He then went on to do some light-hearted comedy, in association with director Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Chupke Chupke, for example, has earned a cult status over the years.
After a near fatal accident on Coolie in 1983, Bachchan took a five-year break only to return with Shahenshah in 1988. His role as a gangster in Mukul Anand’s 1990 film Agneepath won him h National Award, though the film failed to earn numbers at the box office. By the 2000s, he took on the role of a patriarch and played some iconic roles like Narayan Shankar in Mohabbatein and Yashvardhan Raichand in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham – films that went on to become hits at the box office and in the hearts of cinema-goers.
Bachchan continued to challenge himself through the aughts with roles that earned him three more National Awards – the teacher of a deaf-blind girl in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black, a 12-year-old boy suffering from genetic disorder progeria in Paa, and a chronically constipated, nagging father in Piku.
We wish the Shahenshah of Bollywood many more glorious years of keeping us engaged with his charm and humility.
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