Amitabh Bachchan (pronounced [əmɪˈtaːbʱ ˈbətʃːən]; born Inquilaab Srivastava; 11 October 1942) is an Indian film actor, film producer, television host, occasional playback singer and former politician. He first gained popularity in the early 1970s for films such as Zanjeer, Deewaar and Sholay, and was dubbed India's "angry young man" for his on-screen roles in Bollywood. Referred to as the Shahenshah of Bollywood, Sadi ka Mahanayak (Hindi for, "Greatest actor of the century"), Star of the Millennium, or Big B, he has since appeared in over 190 Indian films in a career spanning almost five decades. Bachchan is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors in the history of Indian cinema as well as world cinema. So total was his dominance on the Indian movie scene in the 1970s and 1980s that the French director François Truffaut called him a "one-man industry". Beyond the Indian subcontinent, he also has a large overseas following in markets including Africa (such as South Africa), the Middle East (especially Egypt), United Kingdom, Russia and parts of the United States.Bachchan has won numerous accolades in his career, including four National Film Awards as Best Actor and many awards at international film festivals and award ceremonies. He has won fifteen Filmfare Awards and is the most nominated performer in any major acting category at Filmfare, with 41 nominations overall. In addition to acting, Bachchan has worked as a playback singer, film producer and television presenter. He has hosted several seasons of the game show Kaun Banega Crorepati, India's version of the game show franchise, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. He also entered politics for a time in the 1980s.
The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri in 1984, the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2015 for his contributions to the arts. The Government of France honoured him with its highest civilian honour, Knight of the Legion of Honour, in 2007 for his exceptional career in the world of cinema and beyond. Bachchan also made an appearance in a Hollywood film, Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby (2013), in which he played a non-Indian Jewish character, Meyer Wolfsheim.
Early life and family
Further information: Bachchan family
Bachchan was born in Allahabad. His ancestors on his father's side came from a village called Babupatti, in the Raniganj tehsil, in the Pratapgarh district, in the present-day state of Uttar Pradesh, in India. His mother, Teji Bachchan,was a social activist and Punjabi Sikh woman from Lahore. His father Harivansh Rai Bachchan was a Hindi-speaking Kayastha Hindu poet, who was also fluent in the related Hindustani dialects of Awadhi and Urdu.
Bachchan was initially named Inquilaab, inspired by the phrase Inquilab Zindabad (which translates into English as "Long live the revolution") popularly used during the Indian independence struggle. However, at the suggestion of fellow poet Sumitranandan Pant, Harivansh Rai changed the boy's name to Amitabh, which, according to a The Times of India article, means "the light that will never die".
Although his surname was Shrivastava, Amitabh's father had adopted the pen name Bachchan ("child-like" in colloquial Hindi), under which he published all of his works. It is with this last name that Amitabh debuted in films and for all other practical purposes, Bachchan has become the surname for all of his immediate family. Bachchan's father died in 2003, and his mother in 2007.
Bachchan is an alumnus of Sherwood College, Nainital. He later attended Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi. He has a younger brother, Ajitabh. His mother had a keen interest in theatre and was offered a feature film role, but she preferred her domestic duties. Teji had some influence in Amitabh Bachchan's choice of career because she always insisted that he should "take the centre stage".
He is married to actress Jaya Bhaduri.
Early career (1969–1972)
Bachchan made his film debut in 1969, as a voice narrator in Mrinal Sen's National Award-winning film Bhuvan Shome. His first acting role was as one of the seven protagonists in the film Saat Hindustani, directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and featuring Utpal Dutt, Anwar Ali (brother of comedian Mehmood), Madhu and Jalal Agha.
Anand (1971) followed, in which Bachchan starred alongside Rajesh Khanna. His role as a doctor with a cynical view of life garnered Bachchan his first Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award. He then played his first antagonist role as an infatuated lover-turned-murderer in Parwana (1971). Following Parwana were several films including Reshma Aur Shera (1971). During this time, he made a guest appearance in the film Guddi which starred his future wife Jaya Bhaduri. He narrated part of the film Bawarchi. In 1972 he made an appearance in the road action comedy Bombay to Goa directed by S. Ramanathan which was moderately successful. Many of Bachchan's films during this early period did not do well, but that was about to change.
Career decline and retirement (1988–1992)
After a three year stint in politics from 1984 to 1987, Bachchan returned to films in 1988, playing the title role in Shahenshah, which was a box office success. After the success of his comeback film however, his star power began to wane as all of his subsequent films like Jaadugar, Toofan and Main Azaad Hoon (all released in 1989) failed at the box office. Successes during this period like the crime drama Aaj Ka Arjun (1990) and action crime drama Hum (1991), for which he won his third Filmfare Best Actor Award, looked like they might reverse the trend, but this momentum was short-lived and his string of box office failures continued. Notably, despite the lack of hits, it was during this era that Bachchan won his first National Film Award for Best Actor for his performance as a Mafia don in the 1990 cult film Agneepath. These years would see his last on-screen appearances for some time. After the release of the critically acclaimed epic Khuda Gawah in 1992, Bachchan went into semi-retirement for five years. With the exception of the delayed release of Insaniyat (1994), which was also a box office failure, Bachchan did not appear in any new releases for five years.
Return to prominence (2000–present)
In 2000, Amitabh Bachchan appeared in Yash Chopra's box-office hit, Mohabbatein, directed by Aditya Chopra. He played a stern, elder figure who rivalled the character of Shahrukh Khan. His role won him his third Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. Other hits followed, with Bachchan appearing as an older family patriarch in Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love (2001), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001) and Baghban (2003). As an actor, he continued to perform in a range of characters, receiving critical praise for his performances in Aks (2001), Aankhen (2002), Kaante (2002), Khakee (2004) and Dev (2004).
His performance in Aks won him his first Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.
One project that did particularly well for Bachchan was Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black (2005). The film starred Bachchan as an aging teacher of a deaf-blind girl and followed their relationship. His performance was unanimously praised by critics and audiences and won him his second National Film Award for Best Actor, his fourth Filmfare Best Actor Award and his second Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor. Taking advantage of this resurgence, Amitabh began endorsing a variety of products and services, appearing in many television and billboard advertisements. In 2005 and 2006, he starred with his son Abhishek in the films Bunty Aur Babli (2005), the Godfather tribute Sarkar (2005), and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006). All of them were successful at the box office. His later releases in 2006 and early 2007 were Baabul (2006), Ekalavya and Nishabd (2007), which failed to do well at the box office but his performances in each of them were praised by critics.
In May 2007, two of his films: the romantic comedy Cheeni Kum and the multi-starrer action drama Shootout at Lokhandwala were released. Shootout at Lokhandwala did well at the box office and was declared a hit in India, while Cheeni Kum picked up after a slow start and was a success. A remake of his biggest hit, Sholay (1975), entitled Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, released in August of that same year and proved to be a major commercial failure in addition to its poor critical reception. The year also marked Bachchan's first appearance in an English-language film, Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear, co-starring Arjun Rampal and Preity Zinta. The film premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival on 9 September 2007. He received positive reviews from critics who hailed his performance as his best ever since Black.
Bachchan was slated to play a supporting role in his first international film, Shantaram, directed by Mira Nair and starring Hollywood actor Johnny Depp in the lead. The film was due to begin filming in February 2008 but due to the writer's strike, was pushed to September 2008. The film is currently "shelved" indefinitely.
Vivek Sharma's Bhoothnath, in which he plays the title role as a ghost, was released on 9 May 2008. Sarkar Raj, the sequel of the 2005 film Sarkar, released in June 2008 and received a positive response at the box-office. Paa, which released at the end of 2009 was a highly anticipated project as it saw him playing his own son Abhishek's Progeria-affected 13-year-old son, and it opened to favourable reviews, particularly towards Bachchan's performance and was one of the top-grossing films of 2009. It won him his third National Film Award for Best Actor and fifth Filmfare Best Actor Award. In 2010, he debuted in Malayalam film through Kandahar, directed by Major Ravi and co-starring Mohanlal. The film was based on the hijacking incident of the Indian Airlines Flight 814. Bachchan declined any remuneration for this film.
In 2013 he made his Hollywood debut in The Great Gatsby making a special appearance opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. In 2014, he played the role of the friendly ghost in the sequel Bhoothnath Returns. The next year, he played the role of a grumpy father suffering from chronic constipation in the critically acclaimed Piku which was also one of the biggest hits of 2015. A review in Daily News and Analysis (DNA) summarized Bachchan's performance as "The heart and soul of Piku clearly belong to Amitabh Bachchan who is in his elements. His performance in Piku, without doubt, finds a place among the top 10 in his illustrious career." Rachel Saltz wrote for The New York Times, "“Piku,” an offbeat Hindi comedy, would have you contemplate the intestines and mortality of one Bhashkor Banerji and the actor who plays him, Amitabh Bachchan. Bhashkor's life and conversation may revolve around his constipation and fussy hypochondria, but there's no mistaking the scene-stealing energy that Mr. Bachchan, India's erstwhile Angry Young Man, musters for his new role of Cranky Old Man." Well known Indian critic Rajeev Masand wrote on his website, "Bachchan is pretty terrific as Bhashkor, who reminds you of that oddball uncle that you nevertheless have a soft spot for. He bickers with the maids, harrows his hapless helper, and expects that Piku stay unmarried so she can attend to him. At one point, to ward off a possible suitor, he casually mentions that his daughter isn’t a virgin; that she’s financially independent and sexually independent too. Bachchan embraces the character’s many idiosyncrasies, never once slipping into caricature while all along delivering big laughs thanks to his spot-on comic timing. The Guardian summed up, "Bachchan seizes upon his cranky character part, making Bashkor as garrulously funny in his theories on caste and marriage as his system is backed-up." The performance won Bachchan his fourth National Film Award for Best Actor and his third Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.
In 2016, he appeared in the women centric courtroom drama film Pink which was highly praised by critics and with an increasingly good word of mouth, was a resounding success at the domestic and overseas box office. Bachchan's performance in the film received acclaim. According to Raja Sen of Rediff.com, "Amitabh Bachchan, a retired lawyer suffering from bipolar disorder, takes up cudgels on behalf of the girls, delivering courtroom blows with pugilistic grace. Like we know from Prakash Mehra movies, into each life some Bachchan must fall. The girls hang on to him with incredulous desperation, and he bats for them with all he has. At one point Meenal hangs by Bachchan's elbow, words entirely unnecessary. Bachchan towers through Pink – the way he bellows "et cetera" is alone worth having the heavy-hitter at play—but there are softer moments like one where he appears to have dozed off in court, or where he lays his head by his convalescent wife's bedside and needs his hair ruffled and his conviction validated." Writing for Hindustan Times, noted film critic and author Anupama Chopra said of Bachchan's performance, "A special salute to Amitabh Bachchan, who imbues his character with a tragic majesty. Bachchan towers in every sense, but without a hint of showboating. Meena Iyer of The Times of India wrote, "The performances are pitch-perfect with Bachchan leading the way. Writing for NDTV, Troy Ribeiro of Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) stated, 'Amitabh Bachchan as Deepak Sehgall, the aged defence lawyer, shines as always, in a restrained, but powerful performance. His histrionics come primarily in the form of his well-modulated baritone, conveying his emotions and of course, from the well-written lines.' Mike McCahill of The Guardian remarked, "Among an electric ensemble, Tapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang give unwavering voice to the girls’ struggles; Amitabh Bachchan brings his moral authority to bear as their sole legal ally.
In 2017, he appeared in the third installment of the Sarkar film series: Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar 3. That year, he started filming for the swashbuckling action adventure film Thugs Of Hindostan with Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh which released in November 2018. He co-starred with Rishi Kapoor in 102 Not Out, a comedy-drama film directed by Umesh Shukla based on a Gujarati play of the same name written by Saumya Joshi. This film released in May 2018 and reunited him with Kapoor onscreen after a gap of twenty-seven years. In October 2017, it was announced that Bachchan will appear in Ayan Mukerji's Brahmastra, alongside Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.