It’s Amitabh’s Birthday!!!!! The second most glorious day of the filmic year (after November 2nd, I do have my priorities). And, of course, for Amitabh, I will be doing a full 74 reasons to love him. (Part 2 here and part 3 here)
1.1. I love you because your destiny was determined from birth, your name was “Inquilab” (revolution) until a few days after birth when a friend of your father’s had a vision and suggested it be changed to “Amitabh” meaning “light that will not die”. You brought forth a revolution in film/society in the 1970s, and you became the light on film that will not die.
2. I love you because you were born into a family which would support your dreams and raise you to believe anything is possible. Your father, Harivanshri Rai Bachchan was famous modern poet, a scholar who received a PhD in English literature from Cambridge, and a man who made his own way even to the point of choosing his own name, “Bachchan”, meaning childlike. And choosing his own wife, an educated charming woman from the Sikh community.
3. I love you because you grew up casually running in and out of the corridors of power. The literal corridors, as you spent your childhood playing with in the Prime Minister’s residence with your good friend Rajiv Gandhi, her son.
4. I love you because you did well in business and we set on a good career path, when you chose to throw it all away to chase your dreams in film.
5. I love you because you arrived in Bombay with no film connections but, according to legend, an open letter of introduction from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi!
6. I love you because right from your first movie, you weren’t quite a star yet, but you did have something special about you. Check out that cocky walk!
7. I love you because you made your first big impression on the audiences in your 5th film, Anand, going up against India’s first superstar, Rajesh Khanna, and holding your own.
8. And then there was Rashma Aur Shera, in which you had the opportunity to play opposite Waheeda Rahman, Sunil Dutt, and even lil’ Sanjay in a cameo!
9. You were willing to take any job at this point, whether it was a cameo in mentor Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film Guddi (featuring your future wife Jaya Bhaduri!), or an appearance in Shashi Kapoor’s Merchant-Ivory film Bombay Talkies. And it finally paid off, with your role in the failed action/comedy movie Bombay to Goa, which made the young scriptwriters Salim-Javed take notice of this actor who had a way with fight scenes.
10. Before moving on to your career successes, one last reason to love you from this era, that Jaya Bhadhuri already loved you and didn’t care about your failures, even while she was the biggest female star in the country.
11. I love you because what you did in Zanjeer, no one had ever done before. You exploded off the screen and changed Indian film forever.
12. I love you because Zanjeer also changed your life forever, you had promised Jaya that if it did well you would take her on a trip to London. But after the tickets were already purchased, her father refused to let her go traveling alone with her boyfriend, so you arranged a hasty wedding and turned it into a honeymoon trip instead.
13. I love you because you returned from London to have Deewar release and turn you into a megastar.
14. I love you because you kept your commitment to the multi-starrer Sholay, despite your new superstar status and your wife’s pregnancy, because you believed in the story.
15. I love you because you made the Sholay location shoot into a joyful celebration of the early days of marriage, romancing your wife on screen all day, and driving through the night to find her whatever delicacy her pregnancy had her craving.
16. I love you because Zanjeer wasn’t just explosive, it was also romantic! You can see this is a couple that is really in love.
17. I love you because in Deewar, you took the anger at the heart of Zanjeer and fully revealed it (with the help of Yash Chopra).
18. I love you because you managed to pull off this ridiculous outfit and some how make it cool and even sexy.
19. I love you because in Sholay you managed to find your peace again under the anger, and the sweetness under the sexiness.
20. I love you because you also found the cynical humor in the character, which somehow served to make him that much more real.
21. I love you because you stopped Sholay in the middle of filming for Jaya’s final months of pregnancy and the birth of Shweta, then returned to finish it, and finally arriving at the premiere with a wife who was pregnant once again, with Abhishek.
22. I love you because your children and wife were always a proud part of your identity, photo shoots and interviews highlighting your connection to them, and your perfect modern Indian family.
23. I love you because at the same time you were starting a family, you were also starting a new era of film, bringing in the age of the Angry Young Man, but more than that, the modern man and the modern film which wasn’t afraid to engage with social issues and question the status quo.
24. I love you because even though you were the top star, a bigger star an ever before in the history of film, you never rested on your laurels, always taking on new roles, and multiple roles.
25. I love you because you also had a loyalty to the industry and the health of the industry, for instance completing Don at no charge after the producer died in the middle of filming in order to help his widow.