Amitabh Bachchan turns 76 today. Born to acclaimed Hindi Poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan (who has several famous works to his credit, though Madhushala outshines everything else he wrote) and Teji Bachchan, a flamboyant lady having several attributes, Amitabh had a normal childhood. While he got talented genes from his parents his tall height, lanky physique and rather deep tenor did not aid his ambition to pursue a career in Bollywood, though later on all these features became his strength. Disinterested in the sales job that took him to Kolkata, he came to Mumbai and struggled. Khwaja Ahmed Abbas launched him in Saat Hindustani, though he hit big time only with Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer after series of forgettable outings. How Zanjeer ended up in his lap is a different story altogether and a recipe for full fledged blog, though it is enough to mention here that he was lucky to be picked up for that role originally offered to Dev Anand and Raj Kumar. He never looked back after that. He became the biggest superstar attaining unexpected heights and his feats were neither seen before him nor after his superstardom ended in late 1990s. He married Jaya, worked with top heroines, had two lovely kids, got embroiled in the controversy of alleged affairs with Pravin Babi and Rekha, faced financial crunch and fought back in the first decade of 21st Century to become a star TV host and character superstar.
All the above are hallmarks of the great personality that Amitabh is, but what makes him unique is his struggle between life and death in which he defeated death. During the shooting of Coolie, in a daring stunt with his co-star Punit Issar, Amitabh got seriously injured that kept him in Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital for more than 6 months during which he frequently stared at death in its face! There were frequent rumours of his demise that had to be denied by his family and friends. However, I read somewhere that Amitabh was actually clinically dead for a few seconds and it was a sheer miracle that a team of doctor’s attending to him could resuscitate him back to life. While he attributed his miraculous revival to the prayers of his fans, our mythology has a story about Maarkandeya who was destined to die on his 16th birthday but a boon by Lord Shiva made him immortal and ever youthful. Amitabh is a real life Maarkandeya of modern age – conqueror of death and eternally youthful! Happy birthday Sadi Ke Mahanayak!