In 1982, when he had a near-fatal injury from an accident during the shooting of the infamous movie ‘coolie’, he remained critically ill for many months. In those months, his audience was shattered and stood steadfastly outside the hospital offering prayers for his life and quick recovery. The director of the movie, Mr Manmohan Desai, is said to have changed the ending of the movie, deeply impacted by the real-life incident in the actor’s life. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan has been one of the few actors to experience superstardom for almost a decade in the Indian Film Industry and was even termed as a ‘one-man industry’ during this time. His impact and contribution to Indian cinema has changed the dynamics of Bollywood forever. Today, billions of people have been moved by his work and his life, which only emulates his values.
But he didn’t always enjoy the popularity he holds today. As a youngster, Mr Bachchan applied for a role as a newsreader at All India Radio but failed the audition. He eventually moved to theatre and began his movie career in 1969 in a film called Bhuvan Shome, where he used his now famous baritone voice as narrator for the movie. He was born in Allahabad in 1942 to a poetic father, Mr Harivansh Rai Bachchan and social activist mom, Teji Bachchan. He started to pick fame somewhere around the early 1970s, creating a career that spanned for more than five decades.
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In India, 1.38 billion fans watched his journey of resilience as he experienced a low in his career, facing many flops and eventually he quietly took a sabbatical. Then he inched his way back, even winning a National award during this time for the cult film Agneepath. He came back with a vengeance to the big screen with the same stunning, larger-than life performances. Delivering movies like Mohabbatein, Baghban, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Black, resonating strongly with the Indian audience and winning their hearts yet again. His superstardom untouched, his legacy of movies like Deewar, Sholay and Zanjeer set in stone, changing the face of cinema and stardom.
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The lessons we learned from him
It is unquestionable that Mr Bachchan raised the benchmark in Indian Cinema a thousand-fold and every actor aspires to make the same kind of impact he had over the audience. Through his movies, exceptional dialogue delivery, iconic performances, distinctive dance style, he has taught us many things. Even today, different generations draw reference from his movies for lessons on friendship, romance, love, loyalty and family. His association with the popular quiz show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ turned quizzing into a sensation. It triggered young minds, engaged a billion people and taught us that learning is a lifelong journey and yes, that luck just waits around the corner for those who don’t give up.
"Make your own choices, in the light of your own wisdom" - Amitabh Bachchan
Mr Bachchan has won many awards for his work, in 1984 he won the Padma Shri, in 2001 the Padma Bhushan and in 2015 the Padma Vibhushan for his contributions to the arts. He was also honoured by the Government of France with the highest civilian honour, the Knight of the Legion of Honour in 2007. His accolades are numerous including four National Film Awards, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, 16 Filmfare Awards with the greatest number of nominations at Filmfare. Despite a long, accomplished career, Mr. Bachchan still says, "there are many things that I feel, I have missed out on."
Today, on his 80th birthday, we at Learner Circle celebrate his journey and what it means to the world of cinema, his audience and India. His life emulates the values of hard work, perseverance, passion and sheer courage. We hope our students learn to emulate the same values as we strive to nurture them into powerful leaders and impactful citizens of tomorrow.