What can one say about Amitabh Bachchan that’s not been said, written, sung, aired or paid tribute to in one form or another? The answer to the frustration of most Big B’s aficionados is, well, nothing. He’s been successful for such a long time that words have exhausted, ink has dried up and thoughts sound like echoes of previously articulated sentiments.
But that doesn’t make him any less precious to those throngs of fans who assemble every single week to catch a glimpse of the star that represents dreams, hope, charisma and power. It doesn’t stop every aspiring and established filmmaker from approaching him for his/her ‘dream come true’ moment. It doesn’t stop gushing fans in the garb of contestants and followers from wanting a hint of his acknowledgement.
It doesn’t stop perfectly subdued journalists from turning into jelly-kneed teenagers on learning he’s mentioned, followed or acknowledged them in print or social network.
His stardom, enthusiasm and aura is beyond any writer’s hypothesis. It doesn’t ask for analysis. It’s simply out there, for us to contribute and him to appreciate. And here’s the deal, from 1969 to 2012, Bachchan has worked in over a staggering 180 movies as a poet, smuggler, farmer, physician, magician, superhero; you name it with a wide range of production houses, filmmakers, co-actors and technicians.
But it’s not the statistic that opens one’s mouth in awe and admiration. What makes this accomplishment unique is that nearly three fourth of his filmography is eminently watchable.
Lets take a look at the body of work of our very own BIG B in adequate order of chronology:
Anand(1961): As the genteel and compassionate doctor aka Babumoshai to Rajesh Khanna’s memorable Anand, Bachchan made his first major impact.
Zanjeer(1973): Though the role of Inspector Vijay Khanna in Prakash Mehra’s revenge drama was turned down by many established heroes, AB’s raging intensity proved just the right fit for the character changing his life and career for good.
Abhimaan(1973): How male ego can interfere with the marriage of the disproportionately talented playback singers is demonstrated with rare sensitivity in Hrishikesh Mukerjee’s melliflous classic.
Majboor(1974): Ravi Tandon, also Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon’s dad, directed this engaging thriller with Bachchan at his effortless best essaying the role of needy youngster caught in the middle of a terminal ailment and a crime he’s compelled to take the blame for.
Deewar(1975): The Yash Chopra classic with all the iconic Salim-Javed dialogues and confrontation scenes between a righteous mother and her sons on either side of the law cemented AB’s name in gold.
Sholay(1975): If there’s a movie as celebrated as Big B himself, it’s got to be Ramesh Sippy’s ode to spaghetti westerns brimming with all-time hit fictional characters like Gabbar Singh, Thakur Baldev Singh, Jai, Veeru, Basanti and Co.
Kabhi Kabhi(1976): In Yash Chopra’s star-studded take on relationships and romance, Amitabh Bachchan took centre stage with his poetic voice and affecting eyes even as Raakhee, Shashi Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh lend terrific support.
Amar Akbar Anthony(1977): Manmohan Desai ropes 1970s top most stars to play the titular roles of Amar Akbar and Anthony in his lost and found bonanza to celebrate national integration with generous contribution from Bachchan as the unforgettable Anthony Gonsalves, along with Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna.
Don(1978): The smart twists, stylish treatment and spry compositions of Big B’s Don turned it into a cult classic while Farhan Akhtar’s remakes with Shah Rukh Khan aims to turn it into a full-blown franchise.
Muqaddar ka Sikandar(1978): In Prakash Mehra’s melodious version of Devdas, AB plays the do-gooder albeit ill-fated Sikandar who’s unlucky in love with both Raakhee and Rekha.
Trishul(1978): Big B’s Vijay Kumar goes after his illegitimate father (Sanjeev Kumar) and his flourishing business with a single aim in mind — avenge his mother’s (Waheeda Rehman) humiliation in Yash Chopra’s perennially potent Trishul.
Kala Patthar(1979): Though not a commercial success, Yash Chopra’s on screen adaptation of a real-life coal mine tragedy starring regulars Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Raakhee, Neetu Singh as well as Shatrughan Sinha in a memorable turn is among his best creations.
Shaan(1980): While Shaan is certainly no Sholay, Ramesh Sippy’s lavish multi-starrer too found an impressive villain in Shakaal while his biggie cast of Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Shashi Kapoor, Parveen Babi, Raakhee, Sunil Dutt, Johnny Walker and Bindiya Goswami did their thing to keep the viewer hooked from start to finish.
Dostana(1980): Personal rivalry notwithstanding, Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha epitomized immortal friendship in Dharma Production’s original Dostana.
Laawaris(1981): Among its many attributes, Prakesh Mehra’s Laawarisprides itself on Big B’s outrageous drag queen act in the chartbuster ditty sung by the man himself — Mere angne mein tumhara kya kaam hai.
Yaarana(1981): It’s amazing how realistically AB and Amjad Khan could shift from absolute enmity in Barsaat Ki Ek Raat to embody undying friendship in Yaarana. Also, just how fabulous is Bachchan in this gender reversedMy Fair Lady whether he’s playing the clumsy village bum on a paraglider, singing sensation in a bulb-friendly bodysuit or a friend to the rescue.
Silsila(1981): Yash Chopra pulled off the greatest casting coup of his career by convincing Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan along with Rekha to star together at the height of their alleged link-up in a script about extramarital affairs.
Kaalia(1981): Big B means business in his engrossing transformation from bumpkin Kallu to thief Kaalia in Tinnu Anand’s fun-package of knockout punch lines and RD Burman’s snazzy soundtrack.
Namak Halaal(1982): There’s no shortage of entertainment in this Prakash Mehra dramedy (drama+comedy) starring AB as the naive, dadoo-loving villager Arjun Singh and his oddball experiences after he’s appointed the concierge of a five-star hotel in the city and later as ‘maalik’Shashi Kapoor’s fiercely loyal bodyguard.
Satte Pe Satta(1982): Though Satte Pe Satta takes some inspiration from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Big B (in an interesting double role) and his band of unkempt siblings who straighten their act for the sake of love, invest a lot more spontaneity and snazz to add to its repeat value.