Amitabh Harivansh Bachchan (born 11 October 1942) is an Indian film actor. He first gained popularity in the early 1970s for movies like Deewar and Zanjeer, and was dubbed India's first "angry young man" for his on-screen roles in Bollywood. He has since appeared in over 180 Indian films in a career spanning more than four decades. Bachchan is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors in the history of Indian cinema. So total was his dominance of the movie scene in the 1970s and 1980s that the French director François Truffaut called him a "one-man industry."
Bachchan has won many major awards in his career, including three National Film Awards as Best Actor, a number of awards at international film festivals and award ceremonies and fourteen Filmfare Awards. He is the most-nominated performer in any major acting category at Filmfare, with 39 nominations overall. In addition to acting, Bachchan has worked as a playback singer, film producer and television presenter. He also had a stint in politics in the 1980s.
The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri in 1984, the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2015 for his contributions to the arts. The Government of France honoured him with its highest civilian honour, Knight of the Legion of Honour, in 2007 for his exceptional career in the world of cinema and beyond.
Bachchan made his Hollywood debut in 2013 with The Great Gatsby, in which he played a non-Indian Jewish character, Meyer Wolfsheim.
Early and personal life
Bachchan was born in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, in north central India. His father Harivansh Rai Bachchan was a Hindi poet and his mother Teji Bachchan was a Punjabi Sikh from Lyallpur (now Faisalabad), Punjab. Bachchan was initially named Inquilaab, inspired by the phrase Inquilab Zindabad popularly used during the Indian independence struggle. In English, Inquilab Zindabad means "Long live the revolution." However, at the suggestion of fellow poet Sumitranandan Pant, Harivansh Rai changed the boy's name to Amitabh, which means "the light that will never die." Although his surname was Shrivastava, Amitabh's father had adopted the pen name Bachchan ("child-like" in colloquial Hindi), under which he published all of his works. It is with this last name that Amitabh debuted in films and for all other practical purposes, Bachchan has become the surname for all of his immediate family. Bachchan's father died in 2003, and his mother in 2007.
Bachchan is an alumnus of Sherwood College, Nainital. He later attended Kirori Mal College, Delhi University. He has a younger brother, Ajitabh. His mother had a keen interest in theatre and was offered a feature film role, but she preferred her domestic duties. Teji had some influence in Amitabh Bachchan's choice of career because she always insisted that he should "take the centre stage."
Bachchan is married to actress Jaya Bhaduri. The couple have two children, Shweta Nanda (wife of businessman Nikhil Nanda) and Abhishek Bachchan (actor and husband of actress Aishwarya Rai).
Bachchan made his film debut in 1969 as a voice narrator in Mrinal Sen's National Award winning film Bhuvan Shome. His first acting role was as one of the seven protagonists in the film Saat Hindustani directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and featuring Utpal Dutt, Anwar Ali (brother of comedian Mehmood), Madhu and Jalal Agha.
Anand (1971) followed, in which Bachchan starred alongside Rajesh Khanna. His role as a doctor with a cynical view of life garnered Bachchan his first Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award. He then played his first antagonist role as an infatuated lover-turned-murderer in Parwaana (1971). Following Parwaana were several films including Reshma Aur Shera (1971). During this time, he made a guest appearance in the film Guddi which starred his future wife Jaya Bhaduri. He narrated part of the film Bawarchi. In 1972 he made an appearance in the road action comedy Bombay to Goa directed by S. Ramanathan. Many of Bachchan's films during this early period did not do well, but that was about to change.
Director Prakash Mehra cast him in the leading role for the film Zanjeer (1973) as Inspector Vijay Khanna. The film was a sharp contrast to the romantically themed films that had generally preceded it and established Amitabh in a new persona—the "angry young man" of Bollywood cinema. Filmfare considers this one of the most iconic performances of Bollywood history. The film was a huge success and one of the highest grossing films of that year, breaking Bachchan's dry spell at the box office and making him a star. From then onwards, Bachchan became one of the most successful leading men of the film industry. He earned his first Filmfare nomination for Best Actor for Zanjeer. The year 1973 was also when he married Jaya, and around this time they appeared in several films together; not only in Zanjeer but in films such as Abhimaan which followed and was released only a month after their marriage and was also successful at the box office. Later, Bachchan played the role of Vikram, once again along with Rajesh Khanna, in the film Namak Haraam, a social drama directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and scripted by Biresh Chatterjee addressing themes of friendship. His supporting role won him his second Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award.
On 26 July 1982, while filming Coolie in the University Campus in Bangalore, Bachchan suffered a near fatal intestinal injury during the filming of a fight scene with co-actor Puneet Issar. Bachchan was performing his own stunts in the film and one scene required him to fall onto a table and then on the ground. However, as he jumped towards the table, the corner of the table struck his abdomen, resulting in a splenic rupture from which he lost a significant amount of blood. He required an emergency splenectomy and remained critically ill in hospital for many months, at times close to death. The public response included prayers in temples and offers to sacrifice limbs to save him, while later, there were long queues of well-wishing fans outside the hospital where he was recuperating.
Nevertheless, he resumed filming later that year after a long period of recuperation. The film was released in 1983, and partly due to the huge publicity of Bachchan's accident, the film was a box office success and the top grossing film that year.
In 1984, Bachchan took a break from acting and briefly entered politics in support of long-time family friend, Rajiv Gandhi. He contested Allahabad's seat of 8th Lok Sabha against H. N. Bahuguna, former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and won by one of the highest victory margins in general election history (68.2% of the vote). His political career, however, was short-lived: he resigned after three years, calling politics a cesspool. The resignation followed the implication of Bachchan and his brother in the "Bofors scandal" by a newspaper, which he vowed to take to court. Bachchan was eventually found not guilty of involvement in the ordeal.
His old friend, Amar Singh, helped him during a financial crisis due to the failure of his company ABCL. Therefore, Bachchan started to support Amar Singh's political party, the Samajwadi Party. Jaya Bachchan joined the Samajwadi party and became a Rajya Sabha member. Bachchan has continued to do favours for the Samajwadi party, including advertisements and political campaigns. These activities have recently gotten him into trouble in the Indian courts for false claims after a previous incident of submission of legal papers by him, stating that he is a farmer.
A 15-year press ban against Bachchan was imposed during his peak acting years by Stardust and some of the other film magazines. In his defence, Bachchan claimed to have banned the press from entering his sets until late 1989.
In 2000, Bachchan hosted the first season of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), the Indian adaptation of the British television game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. The show was well received. A second season followed in 2005 but its run was cut short by STAR Plus when Bachchan fell ill in 2006. In 2009, Bachchan hosted the third season of the reality show Bigg Boss.
In 2010, Bachchan hosted the fourth season of KBC. The fifth season started on 15 August 2011 and ended on 17 November 2011. The show became a massive hit with audiences and broke many TRP Records. CNN IBN awarded Indian of the Year- Entertainment to Team KBC and Bachchan. The Show also grabbed all the major Awards for its category. The sixth season was also hosted by Bachchan, commencing on 7 September 2012, broadcast on Sony TV and received the highest number of viewers thus far. In 2014, he debuted in the fictional Sony Entertainment Television TV series titled Yudh playing the lead role of a businessman battling both his personal and professional life. Bachchan is also the brand ambassador for Gujarat Tourism, which he has been since 1 February 2010.
Bachchan is known for his deep, baritone voice. He has been a narrator, a playback singer, and presenter for numerous programmes. Renowned film director Satyajit Ray was so impressed with Bachchan's voice that he decided to use Bachchan as the narrator in his 1977 film Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players). Bachchan lent his voice as a narrator to the 2001 movie Lagaan which was a super hit. In 2005, Bachchan lent his voice to the Oscar-winning French documentary March of the Penguins, directed by Luc Jacquet.
Amitabh Bachchan has been involved in many social works. Amitabh donated ₹11 lakh (US$17,000) to clear the debts of nearly 40 beleaguered farmers in Andhra Pradesh. He also donated ₹30 lakh (US$45,000) to clear the debts of some 100 Vidarbha farmers. In 2010, he donated ₹11 lakh (US$17,000) for Resul Pookutty's foundation, for medical centre at Kochi. Amitabh Bachchan donateed ₹2.5 lakh (US$3,800) to Delhi Police constable Subhash Chand Tomar's family, who died after succumbing to injuries during anti-gangrape protest for 2012 Delhi gang rape. He opened a Harivansh Rai Bachchan Memorial Trust, or HRB Memorial Trust in his father's name in 2013. Amitabh Bachchan was made UNICEF goodwill ambassador for polio Eradication Campaign in India in 2002, when 1,556 polio cases were detected that year. On 27 March 2014, World Health Organization (WHO) declared India a polio free country with no case of disease being reported in the previous three years. In 2013, Amitabh and his family donated ₹25 lakh (US$38,000) to charitable trust Plan India, that works for the upliftment of the girl child in India. Amitabh Bachchan donated ₹11 lakh (US$17,000) to Maharashtra Police Welfare Fund in 2013. Amitabh was the face of 'Save Our Tigers' campaign that promoted the importance of tiger conservation in India.