Amitabh's special birthday gift

  Jaya on Amitabh

  Ajitabh, Ramola on AB

  Abhishek on AB

  Shweta on AB

  'Doctor, will I act again?'

  Hema Malini
  Neetu Singh
  Puneet Issar
  Nirupa Roy
  Shashi Kapoor
  Shatrughan Sinha

  Prakash Mehra
  Tinnu Anand
  K Bhagyaraj
  Rakesh Mehra
  Prahlad Kakkar

  Slide Show
  AB's birthday gift
  The director's actor
  The family man
   A day with AB

  Neerja Shah
  Anwar Ali
  Romesh Sharma
  Khalid Mohamed

  Age is just a number for AB
  AB, rare class act

  Sweet 60! A factfile
  Jessica Hines

  Readers' take
  'AB is the greatest entertainer'
  Happy birthday, Amitabh!

  AB on Rediff
  AB's filmography

  Who was AB's best heroine?

  Zeenat Aman
  Parveen Babi
  Hema Malini
  Neetu Singh



'I went to Sabarimala for AB's well-being'

Not many in India remember that Madhu, leading Malayalam actor of yesteryears, was witness to the birth of Amitabh Bachchan the actor in K A Abbas's Saat Hindustani. Madhu was one of the heroes in Saat Hindustani along with Utpal Dutt, Jalal Agha, Anwar Ali (younger brother of comedian Mehmood) and Madhukar.

The seventh member of Saat Hindustani was a female, enacted by Neena Singh.

Saat Hindustani was made in 1969. At the time, Madhu was a nationally known figure after his film Chemmeen won the Rajat Kamal at the national level. Chemmeen was one of the most talked about and written about films of the sixties.

Madhu talks about the Amitabh Bachchan of 1969, a nervous actor who faced the camera for the first time:

I was introduced to K A Abbas by Ramu Kariat (director of Chemmeen). I did not think twice before accepting the offer to act in Saat Hindustani. Language was not a problem for me. I was well versed in Hindi. I was a Hindi lecturer before joining the film industry.

Besides, I was attracted by the theme of the film which was the liberation struggle of Goa. Several of the seven Hindustanis in the film were newcomers. Amitabh Bachchan was one of them. I had not heard of him then but I knew his mother Teji Bachchan quite well. I met her when I was studying at the National School of Drama in Delhi.

I studied Hindi literature at the Benares Hindu University, so I had read a lot of poems penned by Harivanshrai Bachchan. One of my favourites was Madhushala.

For me, Amitabh Bachchan was the son of Teji and Harivanshrai Bachchan. And for that reason, I felt very close to him. When he came to the sets, he introduced himself as Teji Bachchan's son. Maybe his mother had told him about me. After Chemmeen, I became famous nationally. She congratulated me and lauded me for my performance as Pareekkutty.

We shot in Mumbai and Goa for a month. Those days, all of us stayed together in guesthouses like one big family.

We were all young and enthusiastic. Though several years have passed by, how can I forget the days when we spent 24 hours a day together and also slept in the same room for more than a month?

I had noticed Amitabh's attitude toward work and his willingness to learn. Though it was his first film, he did not give the feeling that he was facing a camera for the first film. I could see an unusual spark in him and a special talent that was waiting to be tapped.

But I was more impressed with his voice. Later, I came to know that he had the habit of reciting his father's verses all the time. That is was what made his voice so attractive. Perhaps he does not know how much those recitations have helped his voice but I am sure that is why his voice is so delightful to ears now. After I came to know about his love for his father's poems, our favourite pastime, as we travelled in buses and trains, was to recite Madhushala.

I was impressed with his interest in Kerala and Malayalam literature. He used to ask me a lot of questions about Malayalam literature.

Though we became very close during the shooting, once it got over, we parted ways. After that, we were not much in touch. We met occasionally at film festivals in Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Delhi, etc.

By then, he had become the Big B. Though we met only briefly, he was full of warmth and smiles.

He was the same Bachchan, the Bachchan who I had met in 1969.

I felt extremely bad and sad when I came to know about his accident in Bangalore. He was more like a younger brother to me. Though we had lost touch after Saat Hindustani. I was really concerned about his health and wanted him to get well soon.

I decided to go to Sabarimala with a ney-thengai (coconut filled with ghee) for his well being. That was the first time I was going to Sabarimala and I did it for him. But I have not told about this to anyone as I never felt the necessity to do so.

This is the first time I am mentioning my trip to Sabarimala. I came to know later that Bachchan also made a pilgrimage to Sabarimala after his recovery.

It is sad that many of those who were associated with Saat Hindustani are no more.

Madhu spoke to Shobha Warrier


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