Amitabh Bachchan birthday special | The once-in-a-generation megastar, Amitabh Bachchan turned 80 years old on October 11. Whatever is said in praise of the cinema icon will fall short, such has been his story from the oblivious bylanes of Allahabad to 'Mayanagri' Mumbai. Once turned down for his looks and now-signature voice, Big B's story is that of any common man as it has never been devoid of failures. However, it is how he dealt with them that made him the man he is today, a revered star, one of the masses, and a master craftsman.
Initial rejection faced by Big B
When Amitabh Bachchan was just of the university, he applied for a job at All India Radio as a presenter. "Maybe my voice was not suitable for what they were looking for. There were many eminent commentators at that time and it is fine," Big B said about his AIR rejection. In another interview during his early phase as an actor, Big B recalled his initial days of struggle in Mumbai saying, "There was a lot of rejection. Everywhere I went, I failed to get a job. I was either not qualified enough or I was either too shy or I was too tongue-tied during my interview and there were more qualified people getting it."
In an Instagram post, Big B recalled being rejected for film roles before landing his debut film Saat Hindustani in 1969.
Amitabh Bachchan's low phase in films
"Every actor has their time." This was true for Big B as well. After entering the film business in 1969, he featured in as many as 12 flop films before getting his first hit in the 1973 blockbuster Zanjeer. At the time he was shooting Coolie in 1983, Big B was at the height of stardom. However, on the film set, he had a brush with death during the filming of a stunt scene. He pulled through, but with his health suffering, Amitabh had to go on a hiatus and lost some of his golden years to bad health. After Khuda Gawah‘s release in 1992, he almost retired because none of his films were working like they used to.
Big B's ABCL: A failed experiment
Big B started ABCL in 1994. The Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd (ABCL) ventured into film production, distribution, event management, talent management and television marketing. It got off to a flying start. In its first year, it made a profit of Rs 15 crores as it successfully produced the iconic Indian sitcom Dekh Bhai Dekh, bought the Hindi rights of the Mani Ratnam classic and Bombay along with other revenue sources. By 1999, the company was in a complete mess as it lost millions, debts soared to an all-time high - Rs 90 crores, to be precise - against a net worth of Rs 60.52 crores in 1999. It's ironic that the era of rapid economic growth in India was proving to be a financial nightmare for ABCL.
Yash Chopra's Mohabbatein and journey as a character actor
In 2000, a heavily debt-ridden Big B turned to Yash Chopra and requested him to be cast in Mohabbatein. With the success of the film, his debt declined. With Mohabbattein, his phase as the character actor began and he has been going on ever since. He, probably, will end up setting a record for doing more films in his later years than he did earlier. The films he did next were totally in contrast to films that made him the megastar in 1970 and 80s.
Big B's big move to TV
Also in 2000, Big B made a major move in his career. From movies, he turned to TV. Probably the only star to take the step. He accepted the offer of being a host in a quiz-based reality show. An unheard of concept in India back then, the show Kaun Banega Crorepati, inspired by the British show - Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, promised to give Rs 1 crore, to the one who would win the game by answering all the questions correctly. Big B said yes to featuring as the show host and it changed the course of history, both for him and for Indian television. The show's popularity took Big B to every Indian household and he got new-found stardom through the small screen. Big B even recalled how he was advised against his TV move and how he did not pay heed to it for good.
(With IANS inputs)