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Before Thugs of Hindostan, here’s proof that Amitabh Bachchan is the master of reinvention

At 76, Amitabh Bachchan defies age and slowing down definitely doesn’t figure in his dictionary. With Thugs of Hindostan up for release and Badla and Brahmastra in the pipeline, Big B remains as relevant as he was 40 years back. A look at his career in the last couple of years.

bollywood Updated: Nov 03, 2018 09:20 IST
Nivedita Mishra
Nivedita Mishra
Hindustan Times
Thugs of Hindostan,Amitabh Bachchan,Aamir Khan
Amitabh Bachchan in a still from Thugs of Hindostan.

As Thugs of Hindostan readies for release on Diwali, there is palpable excitement about the film. After all, it is a star-led project, like Yash Raj Films presentations tend to be. While Aamir Khan will be seen playing Firangi Mallah, a rogue who switches sides at the drop of a hat, 76-year-old Amitabh Bachchan will be seen as a leader of a band of thugs named Khuda Baksh, who takes on the might of the British in the dying years of the 18th century. The massive sets, the ships, the heavy weaponry and attire, the songs and scenes from the film, have piqued everybody’s interest.

While Aamir, understandably, is likely to get a lion’s share of the onscreen time, there is no denying that Amitabh too will feature in the film for a considerable period of time. This is no mean task, as many of his generation has faded from the public memory, Big B continues to be a big draw often competing with the lead stars for top billing. Amitabh has now been working for 49 years and has nearly half a century of work behind him.

A journey that started in 1969 with Saat Hindustani has continued till this day and the future looks equally promising with films like Badla and Brahmastra in the pipeline. To an entire generation of young cine goers, Amitabh of the 1970s and 1980s is the stuff from their father’s generation; one that they may be aware of but certainly can’t identify with. They have their own favourite Amitabh films, the ones he worked in the last few years.

Amitabh Bachchan in Pink.

It is simply commendable that as an actor, Amitabh has been able to reinvent himself repeatedly. Not only has he been part of successful films, he has relentlessly experimented with subjects and themes as well.

In 2015, came Piku, a bittersweet story of a father and daughter relationship where he was pitted against younger stars, Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan. As a cantankerous man, who is obsessed with his bowel movement, Amitabh is a crucial clog in the wheel and possibly one of the reasons for the film’s success. Made at an estimated budget of Rs 420 million (Rs 42 crore), the film made Rs 1.41 billion (Rs 141 crore).

Amitabh Bachchan in Wazir, where his co-star was Farhan Akhtar.

The same year saw the release of films like Wazir and Te3n, both of which had him in rather unconventional roles. In both, he plays characters who orchestrate the entire drama. In Wazir, he plays a wheelchair-bound man who seeks revenge against a terrorist-turned-politician, responsible for the death of his daughter. In Te3n, he plays a grandfather hoping to find the missing links in the kidnapping and disappearance of his granddaughter and through a twisted plot, seeks deliverance.

In 2016, he came up with another stellar performance with Taapsee Pannu starrer Pink. Playing a lawyer suffering from bipolar disorder, he chooses to fight for three young women in court who accuse a powerful politician’s son of molestation. Made at an estimated budget of Rs 23 crore, Pink went on to make Rs 107.32 crore.

In Pink, Amitabh appeared a lawyer suffering from bipolar disorder.

After a low 2017, Amitabh was back with a bang in 102 Not Out. Playing a centurion, teaching his sour-as-grapes 76-year-old son to embrace life, Amitabh was again in his elements. A moderate success, the film was nonetheless lauded for its performances.

Going by these parameters, one can safely assume that his roles in Badla and Brahmastra will have some meat as well.

A successful stint that began in 2001 when the first season of Kaun Banega Crorepati was launched, Amitabh has constantly challenged conventional wisdom and over a period of 18 years given memorable performances in films like Bhoothnath Returns, Paa, Cheeni Kum, Bhoothnath, Sarkar Raj, Bunty Aur Babli and Black. This is not to discount the number of television ads that he keeps appearing in and having a social media presence that can challenge even the biggest of the current crop of stars in their game.

Author tweets @mniveditatweets

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First Published: Nov 03, 2018 09:13 IST