Bachchanalia: Big B as hero, lover, conman
Sample this: Indian screen icon Amitabh Bachchan is credited with 135 releases in over 40 years. He played the baddie - be it the 'dada', the don, the killer or the thief - in 35 movies.
Contrary to the image of the angry young man who swore by the gun and bashed up baddies in high-decibel blockbusters, Big B, as the superstar is monikered in the tinsel town of Bollywood, has played almost everything on screen.
These revelations are contained in the 310-page Bachchanalia: The Films and Memorabilia of Amitabh Bachchan, released at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday by the Bollywood film icon himself and Neville Tuli, founder and chairman of Mumbai-based auction house Osian's.
The book chronicles the celluloid journey of Big B since 1969 till date through a cache of film memorabilia sourced from Osian's archives in Mumbai.
Other facts about the actor related in the book are:
* Bachchan has played the righteous police officer in 20 movies, an artist in 16 movies, a white collared worker in 13 films, a businessman in 13, a patriot in 11, a blue-collared worker in 11 movies and an agrarian specialist in nine films.
* He breezed in as the savvy entrepreneur in seven movies and in six movies each as the academic and the doctor, and a reformed conman, a canny legal eagle and god in four movies each.
That's quite a mindful. And if it is not enough for the head to reel - here are some more facts:
* In the good old days, when there was no device to evaluate the ratings of Bachchan starrers - barring the odd trade guide and popular perceptions - a Big B movie was often declared "average" on its first release. But in retrospect, it was often billed as a "grosser".
* For instance, Shaan, produced by Ramesh Sippy, initially generated average box office returns, according to trade pundits; but 10 years later, the movie was a "super success".
Bachchanalia..., co-authored by Mumbai-based writer-journalist Bhawana Somaaya and Osian's Centre for Archiving, Research and Development (CARD), is the debut publication of Osian's new publishing and design wing. It is priced at Rs. 3,500.
"It was written for the first time by Somaaya in 2001 as Amitabh: Now and Forever. But Osian's took it over and decided to make it a pictorial biography. It is the story of the actor's journey over the last four decades told through posters, showcards, lobby cards, trophy, photographic stills and song synopsis booklets," Neville Tuli said.
The heavy tome is a goldmine of tidbits about the actor's professional life. In 1969, when Big B played one of the seven soldiers in Saat Hindustani, he was paid Rs 1,000 as remuneration by the producer-director K.A. Abbas. The director also sought his bio-data and interviewed him before confirming the role.
The book explores Saat Hindustani in the context of global cinema.
The navigational space (the empty strip above the mast-head) lists the movie made the previous year in 1968 and those in 1969. While a blurb at the bottom explains the Indian scenario.
The year 1969 marked what came to be known as the India New Wave, small films produced by the government of India through the NFDC. The same year, Mrinal Sen made his movie Bhuvan Shome and Mani Kaul made Uski Roti. Amitabh Bachchan gave his voice over for Bhuvan Shome and was credited as "Amitabh" in the movie.
The book divides Bachchan's career into 16 sections - covering four decades. For instance, between 1969 to 1972, the actor starred in Saat Hindustani, Anand, Parwana, Pyar Ki Kahani, Reshma Aur Shera, Bansi-Birju, Bombay to Goa, Ek Nazar, Raaste ka Patthar and Sanjog.
Between 2007-2008, Big B flaunted himself in different avatars in Eklavya, Gangotri, Nishabd, Cheeni Kum, Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag, Bhootnath, Sarkar Raj, The Last Lear and God, Tussi Great Ho.
"Most of the time, cine-goers remember their favourite films through hoardings. But for me, the idea materialized when a friend presented me with a stack of vintage Bachchan film posters. The young intense face in the pictures was almost unrecognizable from the same, awesome presence we were watching on the big screen," co-author Somaaya said.
And the "muse" himself could not agree less.
Endorsed Bachchan: "It is completely Bhawana's baby. And I liked the idea. In this age of plummeting attention spans, especially among the Gen Next, the youngsters must be given an image to identify the text and to read a few lines. I appreciate the idea that all my film posters have been incorporated in the book."