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
  Nirupa Roy
  Shashi Kapoor
  Shatrugan Sinha

  Prakash Mehra
  Ramesh Sippy
  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

  Anwar Ali
  Neerja Shah
  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

  Which is your favourite AB?

  Angry young man
  Game show host
  Mature artiste


'Puneet relax, it was an accident'

Puneet Issar

I remember the incident clearly. It was way back in 1982, but I am not sure which month it was. It was an action sequence and we were shooting in Bangalore. The sequence was choreographed very well.

I was supposed to throw some punches at Mr Bachchan and he was supposed to throw some punches at me. It was a mock fight. We did some rehearsals. We did about seven rehearsals and they went fine. But during the rehearsals, Amitji would always stop at the table.

Then came the actual take and Amitji was much more charged. I (mock) punched him and threw him on the table as I was supposed to do. But Amitji took a leap, somersaulted and fell off the table. If you remember, that's where the shot has been stopped even in the actual film.

Amitji said, 'Mujhe lag gayi hai [I am hurt].' At first, there was guilt. This was my first film after all. After the accident, Mr Bachchan told me, 'Relax, these things happen while shooting. It was just a mock fight.'

Then he got up and left. We continued shooting after that. But the next day, he did not turn up for shooting and we panicked. We didn't realise the seriousness at the time of the accident.

Later, the pain started growing and we thought we should admit him to hospital. Basically, whenever there is internal bleeding, you have to be operated on in a span of 6 to 7 hours. But the problem was nobody could diagnose it and the pain started growing. To be honest, I would say the negligence of the doctors aggravated the whole situation.

He went to a doctor in Bangalore that evening itself, but they said it is muscular pain. But Mr Bachchan's condition was only going from bad to worse.

The doctors went to one Dr Bhatt for a second opinion. Luckily he saw there was internal bleeding. Dr Bhatt was shocked to see the X-rays and asked the doctors what they were doing as the intestine had ruptured.

Dr Bhatt asked the doctors to call Amitabh Bachchan to the operation theatre immediately. Unfortunately, the operation took place only after 72 hours. The rest is history.

Before Coolie I was struggling and wanted to make a career as a villain. At that time Manmohan Desai saw my photographs and said he would give me a break.

I had worked with Amitji before when I worked as an assistant for Mr Natwarlal and Yaarana.

He is a great man. My wife and I had gone to see Mr Bachchan at Breach Candy Hospital and my wife donated blood for him. I was petrified and thought all this had happened because of me. The press wrote all kinds of things about me and I was paranoid.

Mr Bachchan was a demi God. In the hospital Mr Bachchan told me about an accident that he had had while shooting with Vinod Khanna for a Prakash Mehra film. This is something very few people know.

Amitji was supposed to throw a glass at Vinod Khanna, who was supposed to duck the glass. Everything went fine during the rehearsals, but during the actual take, the timing went wrong and the glass hit Vinod Khanna's chin. He had to take about 3 to 4 stitches.

At that time Vinod Khanna apparently told Amitji to relax and that he knew he didn't do it deliberately.

I remember Mr Bachchan telling me, 'Puneet relax, it happened to me also. It was an accident. You didn't mean it.'

Look at the greatness of that man. He told me all this when he was in hospital.

The media looked at me like I was some Nathuram Godse. But he, his entire family, Jayaji, everyone was very nice to us. He is a great man. I am a great fan of Amitji. I think he's a brilliant actor.

Initially, there were many hate mails, but later it subsided. I don't even remember how many mails I used to get in a day. I got such mails for about two years saying, 'How could you do it?' 'He is our favourite actor' etc. I was infamous. But Amitji later gave an interview saying it was an accident.

But the family was very nice. I worked with Abhishek later in Refugee.

Coolie was a superhit and I was very happy for Manmohan Desai and Amitabh Bachchan. But I did not benefit from it. I was virtually a stigma.

Amitabh Bachchan was a phenomenon at that time, and what was I? I was a non-entity. The press turned me into a life-sized monster. I have a fourth degree black belt in martial arts and all these plus points became my negative points.

I would go to hospital regularly to see Amitji. For 3, 4 years, I did not get any work. I had a wife to support and was jobless. I did Z grade films at that time. I struggled for six years after that accident and only after that did people start coming forward to work with me. I got roles like Duryodhan in B R Chopra's television serial, Mahabharata.

I never worked with Amitji again. I believe in destiny. There is a saying Bhagya se adhik aur samay se pehle kisi ko kuch nahin milta (One does not achieve anything more than one's luck and before one's time). I strongly believe in that. Tough times don't last, but tough people do.

The six years that I struggled made me a stronger human being and a better actor. God has been very kind to me. I guess everything happens for the good.

As far as Amitji goes, I maintain very cordial relations with him. Woh bade hi sabhya log hain (They are very cultured people).

Puneet Issar spoke to Kanchana Suggu


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