At 65, Amitabh rules the roost
Emerging in the early 70s as the angry young man, he still sways the box office. Amitabh Bachchan, who turns 65 Thursday, has rewritten the rules of superstardom in Hindi film industry.
No other actor has enjoyed such iconic status in filmdom. Currently he is hogging the limelight for all the wrong reasons but despite the controversies surrounding him Amitabh is giving the young actors a run for their money.
"I am a big fan of Amitabh. I have grown up seeing his films. He is literally 'my hero'. I first met Amitabh Bachchan on the sets of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. On my first meeting I told him how happy I was to work with him but after that I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't express my happiness beyond that. What can I wish for him on his birthday - he is an icon, he has got everything," Kajol told IANS.
Quite true. Of all the top actors, Amitabh had the maximum number of releases this year. While Salman had three, Shah Rukh one and Aamir Khan none, Amitabh had six releases in 2007.
Though, most of the films, except Shootout at Lokhandwala, bombed, it has not dissuaded the actor from experimenting with different roles under new directors who are making a beeline to sign him.
"I don't know if the audiences are ready or not for such films. From the box office results, perhaps not. But for me as an artiste it gave me tremendous creative satisfaction, on par with what I experienced in Black," Amitabh said in a recent interview to IANS.
His latest experiment was with Bengali director Rituparno Ghosh. He teamed up with Ghosh in his English film The Last Lear, which is based on veteran Bengali actor Utpal Dutt's play Aajker Shahjahan.
It revolves around an aging Shakespearean actor who takes on one of the bard's most challenging roles. The film was well received at the Toronto Film Festival last month.
Another experimental film by Amitabh,
Eklavya - The Royal Guard
, is India's official entry for the Oscars this year. He also received the National Award for best actor from President Pratibha Patil last month for his role in
His international career is flourishing too. He forays into Hollywood with US-based Indian filmmaker Mira Nair's Shantaram. In the film the Big B will play underworld don Kadar Bhai and share screen space with Hollywood veteran Johnny Depp, who is also producing the crime thriller.
Unlike many others, the Big B is not in awe of Hollywood and feels it is trying to destroy the local filmmaking culture in India.
He said: "Hollywood, which has power and strength, has destroyed local film industry in Europe and Britain. Now they are coming to India. But we welcome competition."
He also feels that there is nothing wrong with Indian films, which haven't been able to woo non-Indian audiences in the US.
"Nothing is wrong with our cinema's sensibility or the fact that we have song-and-dance. Language is a barrier. It is the same with English films having a limited audience in India."
He is currently busy shooting for Ravi Chopra's Bhootnath. Apart from that he will be seen in Rumi Jaffery's God Tussi Great Ho and Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar Raj.
He is also preparing for his first world tour with son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya. The Unforgettable Tour, a series of stage shows next year in 18 cities across the world, will also feature Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Bipasha Basu, Riteish Deshmukh and choreographer Shiamak Davar.