Amitabh Bachchan




Amitabh Bachchan:
The Biggest Film Star in the World!
April 8 - 19, 2005

Organized by Uma da Cunha and Richard Peña for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in association with the Indo-American Arts Council, the South Asian International Film Festival and the South Asian Networking Association, with the generous support of AB Corporation (Mumbai). Special thanks to Ismail Merchant and Mrs. Jaya Bachchan.

A BBC survey recently confirmed what his millions of fans worldwide already knew: Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan is the most popular film star in the world, the most recognized face, the biggest box-office draw. We're deeply honored that Mr. Bachchan accepted our invitation to Lincoln Center for this brief but heartfelt tribute.

Amitabh BachchanBorn in 1942, the son of noted Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, AB (as his fans often call him) moved to Bombay in his twenties to try his luck as an actor after a brief stint as a business executive. The first few years were tough: considered too tall (he's 6'3"), he began to land significant roles only in the early 70s, but thanks to a series of features directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, (Anand, Abhimaan, Manak Haram) AB finally came to be noticed. The persona he was developing - somewhat sullen, holding back something and poised to explode - found perfect expression with Zanjeer, directed by Prakash Mehra, in which the real dimensions of AB's rebellious "anti-hero" persona were perhaps first fully revealed. Soon afterwards, it began to seem as if AB was the Bollywood film industry; appearing in blockbuster after blockbuster - many of the best of which were scripted by the Salim-Javed team - he seemed uncannily capable of moving from comedy to dark drama, from action hero to a suave dancer. Yet no matter what kind of film he appeared in, he was always recognizably AB, fully engaged in each role but with an ever-present touch of self-awareness or even irony. The little part of him that he seemed to hold back in each role was the part that he seemed to reserve for the audience, a kind of personal link to all of those that had made him such a superstar, as if to confirm that no matter what the film, he was still our AB. In the 80s, AB tried his hand at politics, and was elected to the Indian Parliament for the Congress Party. When he returned to the screen a few years later, it seemed to take him a while to get up to speed; although there were major hits such as Agneepath, his dominance of Bollywood had been challenged by a new generation. He continued to work, usually successfully, but it was really with his stint as host of India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? that AB again became a superstar. By now, too, he had begun to take on roles that accentuated his maturity; if not the dashing anti-hero, he could now be very effective as a world-weary police veteran in Govind Nihalani's powerful Dev.


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