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To be or not to be Amitabh Bachchan
Apr 13, 2005 12:11 PM 35734 Views
(Updated May 31, 2005 10:49 AM)



Amitabh Bachchan's name is synonymous with enigma. He is the best thing that popular Indian Cinema has ever offered to the world and the best thing that ever happened to Indian cinema. He is the most popular Indian, in India and abroad. Somebody whose charisma reaches out to a truck driver in Ludhiana as well as to a home-sick NRI in London.


To be or not to be AMITABH BACHCHAN, a book that tries to capture and showcase the essence of Amitabh Bachchan. Written by Jaya Bachchan, it takes you through the journey of Amitabh Bachchan from being nowhere to somewhere to everywhere.

The book is a real treat for AB fans because it has over 500 eye-catching photographs. It took me two days to look at each and every photograph! There are several photos in the book that you want to see again and again and yet again! However, the book is very heavy, both in weight as well as on your pocket! But it is a collector's item!

Well, here are some highlights of the book for all my MS buddies:

AB and his parents:: Born to Teji and Dr. Harivanshrai Bachchan on 11 October 1942 at 3 am in the middle of the World War II. Bachchans were originally Srivastavas from Allahabad. He is the eldest of the two sons of Dr. Harisvanshrai Bachchan. AB emphasizes even today that he can never be the man his father was. His father was a well-known poet from a middle class Kayasth family. His mother on the other hand came from an affluent, forward thinking, Sikh family of Lyallpur, now in Pakistan. She was very fond of stage and was also offered a role in a film after her marriage but she preferred to become a quintessential homemaker. In a way she was responsible for AB's career because she always wanted him to take the centre stage.

AB and his struggling days:: Some people are born with the craft or are naturally gifted and AB is definitely one of them. He is also a self-made man. His brother Ajitabh clicked his photos around Calcutta's Victoria Memorial and sent those to a talent contest but, nothing happened! His voice was also rejected at the AIR, Delhi He was dropped from films like Guddi and rejected by directors like Manmohan Desai. Of course, later the Manmohan Desai-AB pair gave us numerous hit films with outrageous storylines! From been outrightly rejected to creating enormous name for himself in the world of entertainment, AB has come a long way.

AB and his first film:: We all know Saat Hindustani was his first film and that it was directed by K. Abbas but do you know who is to be credited for AB's existence in Bollywood? Any guesses? The credit goes to... none other than Tinu Anand! I'll tell you how! AB's photos were sent by his brother's friend to K.Abbas, the director of Saat Hindustani. Tinu Anand was to act in the project but dropped out on being called by Satyajit Ray to join him as his assistant. AB replaced Tinu and that's how he got his first film.

AB and his style:: If he had an odd walk, he converted it into a physical appearance befitting his screen character. If he took up dancing, he changed the criteria of judgment. If he became the silver screen superstar, he changed the concept of good looks. He made it a point to be judged by the criteria set by him.

AB and Jaya:: Their romance began on one summer afternoon under the Wisdom tree at the Pune Film Institute. Jaya was a popular student of the Institute and was chilling with her friends when K.Abbas arrived there with his bunch of actors. One of them was painfully thin, dressed in a simple white kurta and black trousers with chappals. Jaya told her friends that he was Harivanshrai Bachchan's son and wanted to be a hero. Her friends retorted, 'what are you saying?' They kept ridiculing him but Jaya just ignored them because she had secretly started admiring that tall man. They got married on 3rd June 1973.

AB and his kids:: Every Sunday he would bathe Abhishek in a typical Allahabad style by giving him a mustard oil massage and putting loads of oil on this head. This continued right till Abhishek was 11 years old.

AB would bring the roof down if someone fell ill in the house. This was because he knew that he had no control over the situation. Also, he would wake up at least twice in the middle of the night to check whether his kids were properly tucked inside the blanket or whether the draft of the AC was directly on their faces.

Now, he showers the same love on his grand children, NavyaNaveli and Agastya. He loves spending quality time with them. Especially, becoming a horse for them.

AB and his passions:: AB loves capturing moments on his camera. As a child he had a box camera and now he has a Nikon. His favourite subjects for photography are, his family and the sunsets. He is equally good at painting. He loves abstract painting. Another thing that he is extremely fond of is, reading various books at one time and ending up not reading any of those books completely! He loves music immensely. He loves to play the Sitar. He dreams of playing a Synthesizer and a Sarod some day. And can you believe, he has even composed some tunes!

AB and his accidents:: In 1982, he had a close brush with death on the sets of coolie. In an action sequence, he was hit on the Solar Plexus. He had almost died! He was going in and out of coma. It was only because of the prayers of his fans across the globe and their personal penance that he came back to life.

In 1983, he met with another tragic accident when a firecracker bomb burst in his left hand, leaving his hand damaged beyond repairs. His entire left hand had melted! It was after severe medication and matchless plastic surgery that his hand started functioning again. He shot for Sharaabi immediately after that and most of Sharaabi was shot with his left hand in his pocket.

Later, he was struck with an illness called Myasthenia Gravis. This happened either because of the heavy medication that he took during his Coolie accident or because of the blood transfusion that he had received. This illness made him feel weak both mentally and physically and he decided to quit films. He had become very pessimistic about everything and just couldn't handle the pressure of a new film's release every Friday. Before every release he would say, 'Yeh film to flop hogi!'

He took a month long vacation and returned to India on hearing about Indira Gandhi's assassination. Rajeev Gandhi needed his support and that's how politics happened to AB. Therefore his sabbatical from films lasted for 5 years from 1990-1995. Today, he has overcome all his weaknesses but still feels that he has a handicapped body.

AB and KBC:: He surprised himself and the audience as the TV host of the popular show, Kaun Banega Crorepati, that went on to become the National evening habit. Nau baj gaye kya became the popular question in town. Also Amitabh's style of saying, 'Please, please don't go away!' or 'Please take care of yourself.' caught the fancy of the audience.

Lastly, though the book doesn't really reveal everything about AB and leaves a lot of questions unanswered, it is a must read for all his fans.

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To Be or Not To Be Amitabh Bachchan - Khalid Mohamed