Entertainment

‘There is only one Shahenshah’

I was born and raised in Delhi in a very cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Back then, Amitabh Bachchan was a big draw, and once I started watching his films, I became a big fan. Those were the years when there was one ‘Big B’ film after another, and we, as fans, were not complaining at all.

My most favourite haunt used to be Chanakya Theatre, where I caught a majority of Amitabh’s initial films.

Since most of my friends used to be his fans as well, we used to have a ball going to the cinema hall. I remember watching Sholay (1975) at Plaza, which had a big screen, and being mesmerised with the visuals.

Later, Shiela Theatre in Paharganj became a haunt. It is where I have watched an umpteen number of his films including Shakti (1982) and Bemisal (1982).

His acting in these films is phenomenal, and to think that he did it with so many lights and people on the set amazes me. I distinctly remember this scene in Shakti where his mother dies. There is a three-minute sequence that has almost no dialogue, and he is just strutting around. Yet he manages to bring tears to our eyes.

Amitabh Bachchan (L), Shashi Kapoor (C) and Nirupa Roy (R) in ‘Deewaar’

Amitabh Bachchan (L), Shashi Kapoor (C) and Nirupa Roy (R) in ‘Deewaar’
 
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Contrast that with the scene in Deewaar (1975), which is my all-time favourite film, in which he talks to his mother. Those are things only he can do. After I moved to Chennai and pursued Carnatic music, I still kept in touch with his films.

I have watched Pink (2016) seven times and Badla (2019) on more than a couple of occasions. I will always make it a point to watch his films in the theatre because I believe that he is one actor who will dish up something different every time.

Did you know?

  • Deewaar’s plot took inspiration from the 1961 Dilip Kumar film Gunga Jumna as well as Mother India (1957).
  • British filmmaker Danny Boyle had cited Deewaar as a major influence on his Academy award-winning film Slumdog Millionnaire (2008).
  • Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor once again played brothers, and Nirupa Roy their mother, in a film titled Suhaag (1979). It turned out to be the top grossing film that year.

There are many actors who still want to dance around trees, but Amitabh matured with so much grace on the big screen. Be it as a father, a friend, a businessman or even a coolie, his choice of roles has always been unique.

What I like most about him is his style of dialogue delivery. In the films that he played both the father and son, he would actually convince us so well in both the roles. Even today, I remember not only the dialogues from a few of his superhit films but also the dress he wore when he delivered them.

(As told to Srinivasa Ramanujam)

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