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Sweet 60! A factfile
As Amitabh Bachchan turns 60, rediff.com compiles 60 facts about the Star of the Millennium:
He was to be named Inquilab before his father finally agreed upon Amitabh, which means brilliance unlimited.
He attended Sherwood School, Nainital and graduated with a B Sc from Kirorimal College, Delhi.
During his school days, Amitabh dreamt of becoming an engineer. At one point, he even contemplated joining the Indian Air Force.
The Big B is ambidextrous -- he can write with both hands. He excelled at science subjects, but fared abysmally in languages.
His first job was with Shaw Wallace. He also worked as a freight broker for a shipping firm, Bird and Co, drawing a four-figure salary, in Kolkata.
The 6-feet, 2-inch tall AB was rejected when he auditioned for a newsreader's job at All India Radio. Ironically, it is his voice that has been considered one of his strongest assets.
He once spent a few nights on a bench at Marine Drive, Mumbai, when he was a struggler trying to make it big in films.
He got his first break in Khwaja Ahmed Abbas's Saat Hindustani. Though he got good reviews, he was better noticed in Sunil Dutt's home production Reshma Aur Shera.
Had he not been an actor, AB says, he would be selling milk in Allahabad, his hometown.
After his likeable act as the compassionate Babu moshai act in Anand, Amitabh had a spate of ten flops, Parwaana, Pyaar Ki Kahani, Reshma Aur Shera, Bombay Talkies, Bansi Birju, Ek Nazar, Raaste Ka Patthar, Sanjog, Garam Masala, Bandhe Haath. Prakash Mehra's smashing hit Zanjeer broke the jinx.
His favourite screen name is Vijay (Deewar, Zanjeer, Shakti, Agneepath), and favourite screen profession was to play a cop (Zanjeer, Ram Balram, Bade Miya Chote Miya, Aks).
Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri met for the first time at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, and then again on the sets of Hrishikesh Mukherji's Guddi.
Amitabh would have been the hero of his real-life heroine Jaya's debut film, Guddi, as he was the original choice for the lead role. Finally, Samit Banja bagged the role.
He is very particular about being neat and orderly. Even as a struggling actor, his two-room apartment was scrupulously clean.
He regards his younger brother Ajitabh as his best friend.
Known for his sharp memory, AB never forgets the birthday or special occasions in his loved one's lives. The actor makes it a point to wish them unfailingly.
Being the conservative gentleman that he is, Amitabh never formally dated Jaya. They always went out in groups.
He is called Big B by the media, Munna by his parents and Amit by his close friends.
While Shah Rukh Khan and Nana Patekar got critical acclaim playing negative roles in Darr, Baazigar and Agni Sakshi respectively, Amitabh played a villain much earlier in Parwana opposite Yogita Bali. More recently, he played the vicious Manu in Aks and the manic schizophrenic Vijay Singh Rajput to chilling effect.
While shooting for a fight sequence in Manmohan Desai's Coolie, Amitabh was knocked down by Puneet Issar's mistimed punch, injuring him gravely. He was critical for many days and August 2 is regarded as the day when he got a new lease of life. Hundreds of fans gathered outside Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital where he was fighting for his life. India's then prime minister Indira Gandhi flew down to pay him a visit.
Ironically, Vinod Khanna had been a target of an ill-timed stunt at Amitabh's hands while shooting for Prakash Mehra's Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. The latter threw a piece of glass hurting Khanna's chin in the bargain. Khanna needed a couple of stitches.
When Amitabh was in a critical condition after the near fatal accident on the sets of Coolie, wife Jaya would walk barefoot daily from the Breach Candy Hospital in south Mumbai to the famed Siddhi Vinayak Temple, six kilometres away, praying for his quick recovery.
Amitabh dabbles in poetry once in a while. He also enjoys reciting his Babuji's (father) poems. His favourite is Madhushala.
He is a vegetarian who loves to gorge on Aloo Puri, Pakodas, Dhoklas and Parathas.
Besides making a hit jodi with Jaya Bhaduri, Rekha, Zeenat Aman, Raakhee, Parveen Babi and Sridevi, Amitabh made a smashing pair with his heroes too. Witness Dharmendra (Ram Balram, Sholay, Chupke Chupke), Vinod Khanna (Muqqadar Ka Sikandar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish) and Shashi Kapoor (Kabhi Kabhie, Silsila, Deewar, Shaan, Trishul).
Amitabh considers Waheeda Rehman one of the most beautiful women in the film industry.
Both times Amitabh worked opposite Rajesh Khanna (Anand, Namak Haram), he ended up winning the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Trophy.
While shooting for Mukul Anand's Khuda Gawah, Najibullah, then the president of Afghanistan, provided Amitabh with half the country's air force for his protection. Khuda Gawah became one of the most watched Indian films in Afghanistan.
During the making of Khuda Gawah, Amitabh, who plays a Pathan, developed blisters on his face due to the constant application and removal of his fake beard.
Amitabh, a timid English professor who had to masquerade as the goofy botany professor Parimal Tripathi, was not the original choice for the role in Chupke Chupke. Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee was planning on taking a newcomer for the second lead. The leading couple was Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand was modelled on his friendship with Raj Kapoor, where Amitabh became Hrishida (Babu moshai) and Rajesh Khanna played the author-backed Anand Sehgal. The climax stays fresh in the actor's mind as he recalls, 'I was supposed to cry, The truth is I was -- in fact, both Rajesh and I were -- laughing hard! My chin was tickling his stomach. There's hardly any difference in the sound when one cries and laughs. Luckily, our faces were not seen -- it was a top angle shot. We were convulsing with laughter!'
AB loves Gulab Jamuns.
It was during the making of Sholay that Amitabh discovered he was going to be a father of his firstborn, Shwetambiri. Amitabh's role of the strong, silent Jai was first offered to Shatrughan Sinha who refused to play second fiddle to Dharmendra.
Amitabh's favourite director Hrishikesh Mukherjee refers to the superstar as Maharaj.
Amitabh makes it a point to have at least one meal with his family. He likes his meals to be served to him by Jaya.
The god-fearing Libran reads the holy Bhagwad Gita regularly.
Amitabh has a penchant for wristwatches and sunglasses, and possesses an enviable collection of both. Bvlgari, Omega, Cartier, you name it, he has it.
For someone who is not a professional singer, Amitabh has sung quite a few hits. Mere Angne Mein (Laawaris), Rang Barse (Silsila), Mere Paas Aao (Mr Natwarlal) and Tu Maike Mat Jaiyo (Pukar) and the recent Bura bhala (Aks) and Aankhen soliloquy (Aankhen) to name a few.
According to Amitabh, his kids (Shweta and Abhishek) are his severest critics, who run down everything -- from his clothes, hair, performance to dancing -- every time his film is released.
A comicbook series about superhero Amitabh, based on the star was published in the mid-eighties. The story was later developed into a full-fledged film Toofan.
Amitabh is a punctuality freak. In an industry, where most stars have little respect for time, the gracious actor is known to always report on time. He also never leaves his home without touching his parents' feet.
Amitabh was diagnosed with a nerve-related disease, myasthenia gravis, in June 1984.
Holi and Amitabh Bachchan are synonymous with each other. Remember Amitabh's raunchy Rang barse in Yash Chopra's Silsila? The man loves Holi and loves to celebrate the festival of colours by throwing parties, at which half the film industry is invited.
Prakash Mehra's Zanjeer was first offered to Dev Anand, Raaj Kumar and Dharmendra. Amitabh was the final choice for the film that became the turning point in his career.
Considering his superstar status, Bachchan has won few awards: National Award for Best Actor -- Agneepath (1991), Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor -- Anand (1972), Namak Haram (1974) and Mohabbatein (2000). He won the Filmfare Best Actor Award for Amar Akbar Anthony (1978), Don (1979) and Hum (1992). He also won the Critics' Award for Best Actor in Aks (2001)
He was one of the judges at the Miss World beauty pageant in 1995. The next year his company Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited organised the Miss World contest in Bangalore, India. Unfortunately the event met with flak from feminist groups who felt the contest was 'demeaning to Indian culture.'
BBC Online voted him Star of the Millennium, above Laurence Olivier, Charlie Chaplin and Marlon Brando.
He made a path-breaking entry into Indian television with the Hindi version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Kaun Banega Crorepati. The show was an astounding success and marked another glorious chapter in his career.
Amitabh won the Allahabad parliamentary seat in December 1984 on a Congress ticket, defeating veteran Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna. His stint in politics did not last long and he resigned from Parliament four years later after condeming it as a 'cesspool.'
He is the only Asian to feature on BBC's much loved Wogan Show.
Amitabh was one of the first to come up with a music album AB Baby for his music company Big B music. He appeared in an imaginatively shot video by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra called Eir bir phatte.
He has a wax replica displayed at Madame Tussauds in London.
At 58, AB jumped from a height of 30 feet, along with costar Manoj Bajpai for Aks. The actor's wicked performance of a possessed cop was well received, though the film was a no show at the BO.
In a career spanning over three decades, AB recently acted in a mythological drama. It was a special appearance as the bearded Lord Indra in Arjun Sajnani's Agni Varsha. Sajnani and Bachchan go back a long way to their Delhi theatre days.
Both Bachchan's children have found their matches in the first family of show business, the Kapoors. Shweta married Raj Kapoor's eldest child Ritu's son Nikhil Nanda. Abhishek lost his heart to RK's eldest son Randhir's daughter Karisma.
Ironically, the actor who refused to endorse any products at his peak is a regular fixture on the advertising circuit these days, lending his image and persona to a wide range of products from cellular phones to soft drinks to pens to cars to financial schemes.
Recently, French perfume company Lomani launched a new fragrance, Amitabh B Pour Homme (for men) and Amitabh B Pour Femme (for women).
His forthcoming films include Sanjay Gupta's gangster flick Kaante, Honey Irani's family drama Armaan, Farhan Akhtar's war epic Lakshya and Vidhu Vinod Chopra's thriller Chess.
Guess what Aspi's Garam Masala, Mehmood's Kunwaara Baap, Basu Chatterjee's Chhoti Si Baat, Khatta Meetha, Asrani's Chala Murari Hero Banne, Krishna Shah's Cinema Cinema, Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Golmaal, S K Puri's Ahsaas, Sai Paranjype's Chashme Buddoor, Rakesh Kumar's Commander, Tanuja Durai's Pet Pyar Aur Paap, Pankaj Parashar's Jalwa, Ketan Mehta's Hero Hiralal, T Rama Rao's Dosti Dushmani, Jagdeep's Soorma Bhopali, Shashilal Nair's Kroadh, Rajkumar Santoshi's Ghatak, David Dhawan's Biwi No 1 and Arjun Sajnani's Agni Varsha have in common? Amitabh Bachchan made guest appearances in all these films.
Jaya has compiled her 60th birthday gift to Amitabh: a 400-page coffee table book replete with 800 photographs called To Be or Not To Be, written by Khalid Mohamed. Abhishek and Shweta have each contributed a chapter to the book.
Compiled by Sukanya Verma
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