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 75 reasons to love him. (this is an updated and reposted post from last year)
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.
26. I love you because you weren’t afraid to be foolish, even when you were a huge star, whether it was this joyful song from Don.
27. Or this cross-dressing song from Laawaris (Jaya disapproved, but you did it anyway)
28. Or this joyful song from Amar Akbar Anthony (I am always disappointed when my Easter celebrations aren’t like this)
29. Or the title song from the same movie.
30. Or this adorable children’s tune from Mr. Natwarlal.
31. I love you because, by the 80s, you had matured from an Angry Young Man to a One Man Industry. And you tried your best to keep the Amitabh Bachchan film Industry healthy and vibrant.
32. I love you because you played everything from a romantic poet in Kabhi Kabhi to an angry gangster in Kaalia to a guilt-ridden miner in Kaala Patthar to miserable trust fund kid in Sharaabi.
33. I love you because you co-starred with everyone from Sanjeev Kumar to Parveen Babi to Zeenat Aman to Shashi Kapoor and were always generous and giving to them as scene partners.
34. I love you because you worked with every director from Yash Chopra to Manmohan Desai to Hrishikesh Mukherjee to Satyajit Ray to Prakesh Mehra.
35. I love you because, while you worked with everyone, you remained faithful to those who helped you in the beginning, Salim-Javed and Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Yash Chopra just had to ask, and you would show up for them.
36. I love you because this scene from Kabhi Kabhi always makes me think about you as a child, watching your father do these readings. Harivanshri was famous for being one of the first modern poets to travel and perform his own poetry.
37. Speaking of cute scenes, oh my gosh this bit from Kaalia!
38. Yes yes, I am going to do the other cute Kaalia scene!
39. This is also the era when you took a classic Howard Keel role and made it your own! And also made it significantly less misogynistic.
40. And you also took a classic Dudley Moore role and made it your own, not to mention giving it a theme song as good as “Arthur’s Theme.
41. I love you because everything stopped dead in 1983 when you had your accident on the set of Coolie, as everyone from the Prime Minister to the man on the street prayed for your recovery.
42. I love you because you joked in the hospital, when Abhishek and Shweta were brought in to see you, telling them the tubes going in and out of your body were for root beer and lemonade.
43. I love you because you have never really recovered from that accident, the blood transfusions gave you Hepatitis B which eventually took 75% of your liver.
44. I love you because as soon as you were healthier, you went back and finished the film.
45. I love you because your injury over-shadowed Coolie forever, even after release, the producers froze the screen at the moment of injury, and added a caption indicating this was the moment Amitabh Bachchan almost died, pulling the audience momentarily out of the film.
46. I love you because you took a brief break after the injury to reassess your priorities, dedicating yourself to helping the political career of your childhood friend Rajiv Gandhi.
47. I love you because you had worked so hard and so fast, that even during your break, your films continued to release on schedule.
48. I love you because you rebounded with dignity from your failed political endeavors, returning to film with renewed energy.
49. I love you because you made a special appearance in Soorma Bhopali, a film based on a character onscreen for 5 minutes in Sholay.
50. I love you because you adopted a new nickname in honor of your return, Shahenshah!
51. I love you because you kept coming back and doing your best, even in the early 90s when the audience just wasn’t there for you anymore.
52. I love you because this wig is ridiculous.
53. I love you because this intro is so good, even if the rest of the movie can’t quite live up to it.
54. I love you because you saw the signs and realized when you had had enough, taking a voluntary break from film between 1994 and 1997.
55. I love you because you took a chance and started India’s first film and entertainment corporation.
56. I love you because that was a MASSIVE FAILURE, proving that not even you are infallible and giving the rest of us hope.
57. I love you because, in debt and struggling, you became the hardest working man in entertainment, not just returning to films, but becoming spokesperson for innumerable brands, and taking a risk on the new satellite TV format, hosting what became the phenomenon of Kaun Banage Crorepati.
(So many clips to pick from! I went with this one because of Dharam Garam’s stylish shirt)
58. And then there’s Mohabbatain! I love that you trusted Yash Chopra’s son to reinvent you for a new era.
59. I love you because even in your new dignified era, you still were willing to have fun.
60. Although you also had that dignity that cuts like a knife in this new era.
61. I love you because when it came time for your son to be launched, you waited until he had established his own identity onscreen before co-starring with him.
62. I love you because you took on one of the biggest roles of your career at age 63 in Sarkar, one of those parts only you could play, and knocked it out of the park.
63. And then you followed your dead serious performance with Abhishek in Sarkar, with a completely not serious performance in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Actually, scratch that, a mostly not serious performance with a few moments of depth and wisdom, which you managed to somehow make all work together.
64. I love you because you took a risk on a new director and a very different love story at age 65 in Cheeni Kum.
65. I love you because you were in one of my favorite films, playing another one of those “only Amitabh” parts.
66. I love you because you are incredibly active on twitter and Facebook, not just “active for a 60-something”, but for anyone!
67. I love you because most of that activity is the kind of posts my grandfather might make.
(I said he was active, I didn’t say he was adept)
68. I love you because you are a doting grandfather to all 3 of your grandchildren, and a doting father to both your children, with no gender distinction between them.
69. I love you because you have now entered a new phase of your career, playing challenging character roles in a variety of films.
70. I love you because this song is so nice, especially the video with you and one of the many many children you watched grow up and are now working for.
71. I love you because Piku was amazing, and you completely ceded the center stage to your young female co-star. Well, as much as you can ever manage to cede center state.
72. I love you because you lent your presence and support to Pink, a story that I kind of can’t believe managed to come out and be seen in India today.
73. I love you because in honor of the 100th anniversary of Indian film, the Bombay Talkies film honored you twice, first with a short film about a pilgrimage to your house. Which wasn’t that great in the end result, but the song version is so lovely.
74. And then Bombay Talkies honored you again!
75. And finally I love you for this, which would have made you a giant in Indian film history if you had never done anything else on film.