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80 Moments of Amitabh Bachchan Magic!

By SUKANYA VERMA
Last updated on: October 12, 2022 01:04 IST
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This isn't a compilation of his best films, biggest blockbusters or important milestones, but moments that swept Sukanya Verma off the floor, blew her heart into smithereens, regaled her with their sheer silliness, made her laugh till her sides hurt and look at phenke hue paise in disdain.

Writing about Amitabh Bachchan is easy. The superstar's mere mention opens a floodgate of memories.

It's also a task.

Just how many different ways to say 'I love Amitabh Bachchan'?

Everything about his success and stature, the unprecedented mania it generated, the mass dreams it inspired or its undeniable influence on storytelling and heroism in mainstream cinema could fill up books and books of an entire library.

Film is an ever evolving language but, every now and then, we sense Bachchan expressed in the soul of an unrestrained performance, a character subconsciously emulating the Big B's hands-in-pocket swagger or the righteous rage of a wronged protagonist.

For a certain generation, he is an affable quiz master doling out cheques to elated participants of his iconic show.

The youngest of them know him as Deepika Padukone's cantankerous daddy, Ayushmann Khurrana's hunchbacked landlord or Ranbir Kapoor's astra-wielding guru.

But for those of us who witnessed him at the peak of his popularity and grew up in its marvellous shadow in the 1970s-1980s, the connection goes far too deep.

Amitabh Bachchan is in my movie DNA -- my earliest movie memory, my favourite actor beyond reason and a huge reason why I love movies like I do.

Some bonds are sacrosanct and the one formed between his larger-than-life onscreen avatar and a little kid inside a house-full audience of faceless fans is quite like that.

As part of the legend's 80th birthday celebrations, Film Heritage Foundation and PVR cinemas are running a retrospective of a few of his movies from the aforementioned period in theatres across various Indian cities. It will be a thrilling experience, no doubt, but nothing can even begin to describe the feeling of watching the man in action in his heyday.

Here's a toast to the man, the movies and the many, many, MANY memories he's made on big screen through 80 Amitabh Bachchan moments.

 

1. 786, Deewar

Despite his estranged relationship with god, Vijay happily sports the religiously significant 786 badge, which protects him from harm's way for a good part until it drops off in the end.

 

2. Maut Tu Ek Kavita Hai, Anand

While Rajesh Khanna's upbeat Anand looks at zindagi and its many pahelis in awe, Gulzar's immortal words on mortality find poetic justice in Babumoshai Bachchan's soul-stirring recital.

 

3. Adventures of Mr Natwarlal, Mr Natwarlal

Wit and wisecracks become Mr Natwarlal.

Much hilarity ensues after a curious encounter with a burly henchman, whose threats quickly change into cries for help when he trips into quicksand.

By the time Bachchan is done figuring ways to help, our man has sank without a trace.

 

4. Poora naam Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, Agneepath

Vijay Dinanath Chauhan; poora naam.

Baap ka naam Dinanath Chauhan.

Maa ka naam Suhasini Chauhan.

Gaon Mandwa.

Umar chhattis saal, nau mahina, aath din, yeh solvaan ghanta chal rahela hai... haain?'

Trust Big B to make a boss moment out of boring bureaucracy.

 

5. Bol Bachchan, Back Bachchan, Agneepath

Who else can make an 'entry' at mid-point in the movie?

That bit where he goes to meet Kancha Cheena in Mauritius, camera swoops in from the back to capture him standing tall, enjoying the sight of aquamarine waters.

Everything about the shot -- his swaggering pose, his towering elan, every bit of it screams legend.

 

6. Badshah Khan's promise, Khuda Gawah

Big B's Badshah Khan doesn't take his promise lightly. And Mukul Anand makes a goosebumps-inducing spectacle out of it when he's finally reunited with ladylove Sridevi in his native Afghanistan over bombastic sentiments and high-pitched theatrics.

 

7. Big B's near fatal accident, Coolie

Bachchan's brush with death while filming Manmohan Desai's Coolie is as much a part of his cinematic legacy as his art. And the maverick film-maker documents it almost like a piece of history that ought to be preserved and shared with his fans and future generations in a pause and point out frame of the movie.

 

8. Bonding in silence, Shakti

At Raakhee's funeral in Shakti, a father-son communicate in silence and tears.

In that hour of grief, Bachchan is not a convict nor Dilip Kumar a duty-bound policeman but two people who've lost the most precious person in their lives.

At a loss for words, he tenderly grabs his undemonstrative father's arm, emotions well up in their eyes and yours.

 

9. Three steps to inner peace, Sholay

'Tumhara naam kya hai Basanti' is an instant classic. So is his three-stepped quick fix to Ramgarh's plucky tangewali's incessant yakking.

 

10. Tiger fist, Hum

Clenched fist, crunching bones, vigorous head shake, a wild taden-tade-taden background music, Amitabh Bachchan slipping back in Tiger mode and beating the daylights out of the baddies -- packs in a punch every single time.

 

11. Bulb jumpsuit, Yaarana

Remember when AB sported that custom-made LED bulb jumpsuit for Saara Zamana? Lighting up the screen was never the same again.

 

12. Chai Ki Chayaas, Mili

Paani ki pyaas, chaai ki chayaas, one can never get enough of AB's on screen fundas in classic Hrishida style.

 

13. AB Ki Baar AB Sarkar, Sarkar

The chaayas tradition continues albeit in a darker, deadlier avatar as he slips in the role of self-appointed authority said to be inspired by the late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.

 

14. Chain Khuli Ki Main Khuli Ki Chain, Satte Pe Satta

Whatever this delightfully catchy jargon truly means, it makes for one hell of a battle cry as Ravi and Bros have amply demonstrated.

 

15. Catch me if you can, Don

It's about the chase in this 1978 classic.

Be it original or his lookalike, turns out Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi namumkin hai.

What makes this Salim-Javed line so immortal in pop culture is how seamlessly it fits in every single scenario filed under impossible.

 

16. Botany ka B bhi nahi jaanta, Chupke Chupke

Though he actively arrives on the scene only towards the third act, Bachchan's jittery English literature professor masquerading as botany expert while crushing on Jaya's charming student is one of Chupke Chupke's most endearing attributes. Be it the bewildered expressions, corolla cackle or nights spent in mugging, the man's a hoot.

 

17. Evil Eye, Satte Pe Satta

Long before Shah Rukh Khan changed identities by wearing contact lenses, Bachchan's chilling transformation from cold blooded criminal Babu to farm-running family man Ravi in Satte Pe Satta against R D Burman's eerily gurgling sound theme caught our eye.

 

18. Stuck in his Ateet, Kabhi Kabhie

 

Ateet, which means past in Hindi, is an unusual name for one's home but fitting of a bitter poet unable to move on from the heartbreak of his younger days. His home is now a shrine to his memories under whose unsettling shadow his better half must quietly coexist until her own 'ateet' catches up and threatens to destroy the so-called peace of their home sweet home.

 

19. Flight of fantasy, English Vinglish

It's a fight for elbow space or luggage around most co-passengers but Amitabh Bachchan's friendly, accommodating type is the kind one dreams of and Sridevi is blessed with making her flight to New York a dream come true in more ways than one.

 

20. The reconciliation, Shakti

The final scene in Shakti is recounted in much detail and emotion in my nearly decade-old retrospective piece and it continues to resonate just the same.

Once one's duty and another's vendetta is out of the way, a father and son finally make their peace and exult in a bittersweet reunion and realisation of the love they always shared yet never expressed.

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SUKANYA VERMA / Rediff.com