*  AB's biggest hits
     and flops
   *  The changing faces of
     the phenomenon

My Father's Son
He's special, my father: Abhishek Bachchan

The AB Mystique

•  Siddharth Basu
•  Prakash Mehra
•  Ramesh Sippy
•  Tinnu Anand
•  Salim Khan
•  Kader Khan

The Big Interview
•  Vir Sanghvi
•  Simi Garewal
•  Kiron Kher

AB at the box office
An analysis

The AB quotable quotes

AB, the women's man
•  Hema Malini
•  Neetu Singh
•  Shilpa Shetty
•  Raveena
•  Raakhee
•  Aruna Irani

The almost AB

•  Shekhar Suman
•  Sudesh Bhosle

Cyber AB
The web's best on AB

AB on


    'He is a mantra'

    Shatrughan Sinha

    Amitabh is my senior in age, but my junior in films.

    I was getting myself established or rather, I was at the fag end of my struggle when he came in and began his own struggle.

    We used to be together, with another friend Ali, Mehmood's younger brother. Most of the time, you could find us either in Mehmood's house, or in my flat at Bandra's Bandstand. We would see films together, go on dates together, go to the disco together -- we were a team. We also shared a secretary, Pawan Kumar.

    GRADUALLY, I began to get recognition as a villain. Initially, Amitabh wasn't doing too well. Then one day, I walked out of a film, Bombay To Goa. I didn't want to do it, for my own reasons.

    I met Mehmood and Amitabh at Madras airport, just as I was returning to Mumbai. Amitabh pressurised me to do the film. We were good friends, so I relented. Luck favoured Amitabh. With that film, he began to climb, he became a star, then a superstar. Meanwhile, I was doing well, in my own way.

    There are things about his career that people are not aware of. For instance, Sholay -- the role Amitabh played was first offered to me, but I didn't do it. During those days, I was coming as the lead star, and I didn't want to take a second lead character. The role passed on to Amitabh, and you know the rest.

    Or take Deewar -- Salim-Javed wrote the role for me, initially, and it was lying with my producer for a long time. But then there was some difference of opinion between Salim Khan and the producer, and the film passed on to Yash Chopra. And Amitabh got the role.

    AMITABH's climb was steady, and as he got increasingly busy, we began to meet less frequently. But we did do a few films toegether. I must say that Amitabh did not want me to do these films. One was Kaala Pathar, Amitabh didn't want me to do it, I was in the film much against his wishes. It was unfortunate that though we had been such good friends, he and I hardly spoke during the making of that film.

    AS it turned out, I got a lot of praise for Kaala Pathar. Pretty much the same thing happened with Dostaana.

    We had done many films earlier, as well -- we did Naseeb together, then we did Shaan. I think Kaala Pathar was the last nail in the coffin of our friendship, at least at that stage.

    AND Amitabh decided that from there on he wouldn't work with me. A lot of producers thought we made a dynamite pair, but then they came back and asked me to return my signing amount.

    There were quite a few such producers. Like Prakash Mehra, he would first sing Amitabh's praises, then talk against him, then revert to singing his praises...

    They would change, like weather bulletins, but I knew no subterfuge, I never treated anyone as big or small, I only treated everyone as equals. I never embarassed Amitabh by asking him why he wasn't signing films with me -- in fact, I haven't asked him about it till date.

    THEN we entered the political arena, and whenever we met, we were very civil to each other. I'd also like to point out here that when he fell on bad times, both financially and even physically, when the media trashed him, I always raised my voice against it. I always insisted that one should never ridicule someone else when he is down, because ups and downs can happen to anyone.

    I have always supported him, in my own way. Then came the time when his career went into decline and he stopped getting the kind of adulation he was used to. Even then, I never held a grudge against him. I believed that Amitabh Bachchan was a combination of luck, talent and personality, and I used to say, when he was in the dumps, that his time would come again, he would make others look like pygmies because he really is a towering inferno.

    AMITABH is Amitabh -- always envied for that voice, that personality, poise, talent, and of course, luck. He did a couple of things like that Mere angane mein number, but apart from that he has always maintained his dignity. And that is why Amitabh commands the kind of respect few other stars can boast of -- today's stars certainly don't inspire such respect.

    Although Amitabh is one of us, yet he is different. He reminds me of a mantra I've always followed, ever since my Film Institute days. During those days, I often used to wonder, to ask myself, "How will I cope in Mumbai, how will I work there?"

    And I was told, 'Prove that you are better than the people there -- and if you can't, then prove you are different from them.'

    ABOUT myself, I always say, I don't claim to be better than my peers in the industry, but I have certainly proved I am different from them. That is why you see people, in Bollywood and in the South, copying Shatrughan Sinha -- but you never see Shatrughan Sinha copying anyone.

    In Amitabh's case, though, he has not only proved that he was, and is, different from his peers, he also proved that he is better than them.

    I have always been his well-wisher and as such, I am happy for the success of Kaun Banega Crorepati, I am happy he is now out of debt. I felt very angry when that cameraman tried to sue him for so much money, I thought he was being persecuted only because he was Amitabh Bachchan.

    I mean, if you look at bank records there are so many defaulters for far bigger amounts, but Amitabh was the one being taken to court because he could not pay a much smaller amount. That, I thought, was undeserved, it was sheer persecution. Even when he did that Miss World show in Bangalore, he was persecuted.

    Amitabh has suffered, he has paid the price for being Amitabh Bachchan. There must have been times when he profited from being who he was, but we need to remember the price that he has paid, too. So today, if he is successful again, we have to remember that it is success that is very well deserved. And I am very happy for him.

    I send him my love and my very best wishes, for many happy returns of the day. Tell him I love him.

    Shatrughan Sinha spoke to Lata Khubchandani

    Tell us what you think of this article | Send this page to a friend