by ASJAD NAZIR 

HINDI cinema’s greatest star, Amitabh Bachchan, has enjoyed a remarkable career and entertained audiences across different generations. Next week the movie icon, who remains very much in demand, celebrates his 75th birthday on October 11. There will no doubt be celebrations all over the world and messages of love from dedicated fans, including A-list stars.

To mark the special occasion, Eastern Eye presents 75 facts about the superstar, who is also known as Big B. 

  1. Legendary actress Nargis worked with Amitabh Bachchan’s mother Teji in Indian Army hospitals during the 1965 war and got him his first foot in the Bollywood door by organising screen tests for him.
  2. To pay the cab fare to commute to movie studios, the young hopeful gave his voice for audio jingles for products such as Horlicks. He’d earn Rs 50 for a jingle.
  3. Bachchan faced several rejections in the early part of his career, including from movie producer Tarachand Barjatya, who said he looked too much like a poet to be a movie star. 
  4. The first professional credit the aspiring actor got was as a voice narrator for Mrinal Sen’s National Award-winning film Bhuvan Shome (1969). His first name was shortened to Amit in the credits. 
  5. Bachchan appeared as an extra in Bombay Talkie(1970) for one scene, but it was edited out. That movie starred Shashi Kapoor, who would later play second lead to him in a string of super hits. 
  6. He landed his first full-fledged acting role in Saat Hindustani (1969) after original choice Tinnu Anand dropped out. 
  7. Saat Hindustani (1969) is his only black and white film as an actor. 
  8. The first big support that Bachchan received in the film industry was from legendary comedian Mehmood, who recommended him to movie producers, gave him a place to stay and eventually signed him for his home production Bombay To Goa (1972). 
  9. Mehmood had mentored him for his breakthrough role in Anand (1971) and advised him to design his performance around lead star Rajesh Khanna, who would be playing a dying man. 
  10. Bachchan starred in eight movies directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. They were Anand (1971), Namak Haram (1973), Abhimaan (1973), Mili (1975), Chupke Chupke (1975), Alaap (1977), Jurmana (1979) and Bemisal (1982). He also had a guest appearance in Gol Maal (1979) and performed a voice over in Bawarchi (1972). 
  11. The basic premise of his movie Namak Haram (1973) was derived from Jean Anouilh’s classic play Becket. 
  12. Bachchan became famous for his intoxicated scenes, but the first time he played drunk was in Mili (1975). 
  13. Reshma Aur Shera (1971), which saw the young actor play a supporting role, was selected as India’s entry into the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film for that year, but didn’t get nominated. 
  14. Bachchan was dropped from the advanced stages of Guddi (1971), which incidentally, was the movie that turned his future wife Jaya Bhaduri into a star. 
  15. The actor was cast as a villain for the first time in Parwana (1971) and the section where he changes his modes of transportation to cover up a crime was later copied in films including Johnny Gaddar (2007). 
  16. He landed the lead role in romantic drama Pyar Ki Kahani (1971) because the film industry had imposed a six-film limit on lead stars, which led to Jeetendra dropping out because he was shooting that many movies in 1971. 
  17. In Bandhe Haath (1973), Bachchan played a double role for the first time. He also got to drive a Mercedes Benz for the first time thanks to his much bigger co-star Mumtaz, who loaned him her car. 
  18. His early forgotten movie Raaste Ka Patthar (1972) was actually an adaptation of Billy Wilder’s hit comedy The Apartment (1960). 
  19. Bachchan was considered for American movie Siddhartha (1972), but the role was given to Shashi Kapoor. It was a lucky escape for an actor who didn’t even like doing kissing scenes because the movie turned out to be sexually explicit. 
  20. Several stars rejected Zanjeer (1973) and regretted their decisions afterward because, overnight, the film turned Bachchan into a superstar. The movie, which launched his angry young man image, was inspired by spaghetti western Death Rides a Horse (1967) 
  21. Bachchan and his fiancé Jaya Bhaduri made a vow to get married if Zanjeer (1973) became a success. The movie released in May; they married on June 3. 
  22. The actor played a key role in Roti Kapada Aur Makaan, which became the highest grossing movie of 1974. 
  23. Hit 1974 drama Majboor was a remake of Hollywood thriller Zig Zag (1970) 
  24. Shatrughan Sinha was originally supposed to play Jai in Sholay (1975), but the writing pair of Salim-Javed and co-star Dharmendra both recommended Bachchan and he landed the legendary role. 
  25. Sholay had a slow start at the box office, leading the producers to consider reshooting the climax and making Jai live. They were ready to film again, but the movie was a success and the original ending of his death remained intact. 
  26. Kabhi Kabhie (1976) was originally designed to have no songs, but producer Gulshan Rai felt they were essential and this resulted in a winning soundtrack. 
  27. Bachchan’s parents Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan make an appearance in Kabhi Kabhie during a wedding scene. 
  28. Yash Chopra directed classics Deewar (1975) and Kabhi Kabhie simultaneously with Bachchan playing two contrasting roles at opposite ends of the spectrum. 
  29. Bachchan rates the screenplay of Deewar as one of the greatest in Indian cinema history and described it as flawless. 
  30. There were no dialogues written for Bachchan’s death scene in Deewar. He brilliantly ad-libbed the entire scene.
  31. Director Satyajit Ray used Bachchan’s voice as a narrator in his 1977 film Shatranj Ke Khiladi. The movie was selected as India’s entry into the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film for that year, but didn’t get nominated. 
  32. Director Manmohan Desai’s 1977 blockbusters Amar Akbar Anthony and Parvarish were shot simultaneously. 
  33. Desai was so impressed with Bachchan’s improvised drunken scene in Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) that he vowed to only work with him thereafter, unless he said no. It became the biggest hit of that year. 
  34. In 1978 Bachchan delivered the three highest-grossing films of that year – Muqaddar ka SikandarTrishul and Don. 
  35. Muqaddar Ka Sikandar was actually a clever adaptation of legendary novel Devdas, which has been turned into a movie in its original form many times. 
  36. Iconic Don (1978) song Khaike Pan Banaras Wala was not originally included in the film and only added on the suggestion of veteran star Manoj Kumar. 
  37. The name of the movie Mr Natwarlal (1979), and its lead character were named after a notorious Indian conman. 
  38. The original leading ladies cast opposite Bachchan in Silsila (1981) were Parveen Babi and Smita Patil, but director Yash Chopra changed his mind after the first day of shooting, to cast Jaya Bachchan and Rekha instead. 
  39. The legendary light bulb suit worn by Amitabh in Yaarana (1981) was his idea and inspired by a cowboy suit worn by Robert Redford in The Electric Horseman (1979). 
  40. Director Manmohan Desai originally wanted to reunite the Amar AkbarAnthony trio for Naseeb (1981), but was unable to do so because Vinod Khanna had quit the film industry to join a religious cult so he replaced him with Shatrughan Sinha. 
  41. Bachchan’s greatest acting influence was Dilip Kumar and he said it was a dream come true to work with him in Shakti (1982).  
  42. The classic Kaalia (1981) song Jahan Teri Yeh Nazar Hai was shot on the same sets of Namak Halaal (1982) to save time and money. 
  43. Andha Kanoon (1983) had villains named Amar, Akbar and Anthony after Amitabh’s classic 1977 film. 
  44. Smita Patil had called Bachchan two days before his near-death accident on the sets of Coolie (1983) to tell him she had a horrible dream he was dying. 
  45. After that accident on the sets of Coolie, the ending of the film was changed to a happier one with Bachchan’s character being kept alive. The ending of another film, Pukar (1983), was changed for the same reason. 
  46. The idea for Sharaabi (1984) was conceived on a flight from New York to the West Indies, where Bachchan was due to perform at a concert. The movie was loosely inspired by Dudley Moore movie Arthur (1981). 
  47. Before shooting commenced in 1983 for Sharaabi, Bachchan had an accident with a firecracker, leaving his hand badly injured, so most of the film was shot with his left hand in his pocket. 
  48. Inquilaab (1984) was a Bollywood adaptation of Kannada film Chakravyuha (1983). 
  49. Mard (1985) was the only movie directed by Manmohan Desai that had Bachchan as the solo lead. All the others were multi-starrers. Dimple Kapadia was the first choice for leading lady, but she demanded too much money and Amrita Singh was cast instead. 
  50. Aakhree Raasta (1986) was a remake of Tamil film Oru Kaidhiyin Diary (1984). The director was not happy with Sridevi’s voice in the film and got Rekha to dub for it instead. 
  51. The in-demand superstar turned down a number of big projects in his career including the lead role in Shekhar Kapur’s blockbuster superhero film Mr India (1987). 
  52. Jaya Bachchan wrote the story of Shahenshah (1988). 
  53. Main Azaad Hoon (1989) was a clever Bollywood adaptation of Hollywood classic Meet John Doe (1941). 
  54. Crime drama Aaj Ka Arjun (1990) was a remake of Tamil film En Thangachi Padichava (1988). The original title of the movie was Kaun Sune Fariyaad. 
  55. Superhero fantasy Ajooba (1991) was released in Russia as Vozvrashcheniye Bagdadskogo Vora (The Return of the Thief of Baghdad). 
  56. The Jumma Chumma song from Hum (1991) took 15 days to complete in three different schedules at a vast area of Mumbai’s Mukesh Mills. Jumma Chumma was originally made for Ramesh Sippy’s film Ram Ki SitaShyam Ki Gita starring Bachchan and Sridevi in double roles. But the film never took off and later the song was used in Hum. 
  57. Bachchan’s role in Khuda Gawah (1992) was originally supposed to be a six-day guest appearance, but developed into a full role. 
  58. Insaniyat was launched in 1989, set for release in 1991, but had production problems and it finally released in 1994. Vinod Mehra and Nutan completed their scenes before their deaths in 1990 and 1991 respectively. 
  59. Mrityudata (1997) was the first time that singer Daler Mehndi appeared in a movie. The film didn’t do well, but his song Na Na Na Na Re became a smash hit and turned Daler into a huge star. 
  60. The song Sona Sona was recorded for KC Bokadia’s Lal Baadshah (1999), but there was no requirement for it in the film and so it was used for Major Saab upon Bachchan’s request 
  61. The actor narrated the Oscar-nominated movie Lagaan (2001). 
  62. Hit thriller Aankhen (2002) was a big screen adaptation of Gujarati stage play Andhalo Pato. 
  63. Action film Kaante (2002) was a remake of Hollywood film Reservoir Dogs (1992), which itself was inspired by Hong Kong film City On Fire (1987), among others. 
  64. Baghban (2003) is loosely based on Marathi movie Oon Paus (1954), which was inspired by Hollywood film Make Way For Tomorrow (1937). 
  65. A young Ranbir Kapoor worked as an assistant director on Black (2005) and body doubled for Bachchan in one scene, when the actor’s dates weren’t available. 
  66. Black set a record by winning 11 Filmfare Awards, beating Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Devdas (2002), which had both previously won 10 awards each. 
  67. Black is one of only five films alongside Guide (1965), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and Devdas (2002) to win all four major awards (Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress). 
  68. Eklavya: The Royal Guard (2007) was chosen as India’s official entry into Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film for that year, but was not selected. 
  69. The hardworking star shot 23 scenes in five hours on Shootout At Lokhandwala (2007). 
  70. God Tussi Great Ho (2008) was a remake of Hollywood comedy Bruce Almighty (2003). It saw Bachchan playing God. 
  71. Teen (2010), based on Hollywood film 21 (2008), marked the Bollywood debuts of Shraddha Kapoor and Ben Kingsley. 
  72. Hit drama Pink (2016) received universal acclaim and won a National Award for Best Film On Social Issues. It was specially screened for police forces to train them to be sensitive to women’s rights. 
  73. The legendary actor has played more double roles on-screen than any other A-list star in Bollywood history. Some of the films include Don (1978), Kasme Vaade (1978), Desh Premee (1982), Satte Pe Satta (1982) and Mahaan (1983), where he played a triple role. 
  74. Bachchan has won National Best Actor awards for Agneepath (1990), Black (2005), Paa (2009) and Piku (2015)
  75. Bachchan teamed up with Eastern Eye’s Asjad Nazir to shoot a record-breaking podcast for Apple to promote his movie Shamitabh (2015), which was made available to over 850 million iTunes users for free.