Amitabh Bachchan At 75: 75 Stories You Didn't Know About Big B
As Amitabh Bachchan turns a year older today, here are some lesser-known facts and stories of the superstar!
1. His father, poet Harivanshrai Bachchan had a dream that a son would be born to him.
2. “We show everything on our face, not Amit. He festers wounds. He is a brooder, works in isolation, like his father” – wife Jaya Bachchan, in Bhawana Somaaya’s Amitabh Bachchan: The Legend.
3. Likes to read script in Devanagari or Hindi, a language his English-speaking father wrote his poetry in.
4. 17, Clive Road, Allahabad – his first address.
5. “Never worry about log kya kahenge” – From his letter to granddaughters, Navya Naveli Nanda and Aaradhya.
6. "Beautiful young people are accidents of nature. But beautiful old people are works of art" – Navya’s note on her Instagram, alongside a picture of Amitabh giving her a gentle peck. Hashtag: #grandparentsarethebest.
Amitabh Bachchan and his granddaughter, Navya Naveli Nanda
7. Poet Sumitranandan Pant, his father Harivanshrai’s closest friend, named both the Bachchan sons: Amitabh and brother, Ajitabh. Amitabh means eternal light in Sanskrit.
8. His mother Teji once fell in the bathroom at night while Harivanshrai was away in England. An alert Amitabh immediately sent his servant on a bicycle with a written note to summon the doctor.
9. When BBC, after declaring him Star of the Millennium in 1999, asked who he would have voted for, he said, “Marlon Brando!”
10. “It’s natural” – bahu Aishwarya Rai on staying with her in-laws. (The Oprah Winfrey Show)
Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
11. Said yes to Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) after nine sittings with Sameer Nair.
12. Regularly reads Bhagavad Gita.
13. When he grew old, Harivanshrai made it a habit to watch an Amitabh film every evening.
Amitabh Bachchan with his parents
14. “Have you seen the North Star? It appears once in a lifetime. There has been no star as huge as Dad nor will there ever be. You have to make your own story. My career, my life, my identity has to be mine.” – Abhishek on comparisons with his famous dad. (Filmfare, 2012)
15. He had decided early on that when he would have a son, he’d treat him like a “friend.” Abhishek and he are best buddies.
16. Harivanshrai’s poem Madhushala was his source of strength during the low points of his life.
17. Owns a lavish car collection, including Rolls-Royce Phantom, a gift from producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra and a red Mini Cooper given to him by Abhishek.
18. A believer in astrology, 2 is his lucky number. Every car has 2 in its number plate.
19. “Once I was looking at the whole (Bachchan) family through the projection room when they came to see the trial show of Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. Jaya was sitting in the front row and he (Amitabh) and his parents were in the row behind her. They couldn’t see her as clearly as I could. And during our love scenes, I could see tears pouring down her face. A week later [after the trial show), everybody in the industry was telling me that he had made it clear to his producers that he was not going to work with me. Everybody else informed me about it but he didn’t say a word on the subject. When I tried to question him about it, he said, 'I am not going to say a word. Don’t ask me about it.'" – Rekha (Stardust magazine, 1978)
Amitabh and Rekha in a film still
20. Prodded by friends, comedian Jalal Agha and Anwar Ali, agreed to be one of the many mourners for a scene in a Shashi Kapoor-Merchant Ivory film in the 1970s – the then struggling star confessed he did purely to keep himself from starving.
21. In early years, Shatrughan Sinha and he had the same secretary.
22. “Amitabh and I didn’t start off on the best of terms. Initially we had a rather uncomfortable, blow hot, blow cold relationship. He was ten years older than me but like an idiot I used to call him Amitabh, never Amit-ji.” – Rishi Kapoor in Khullam Khulla, his memoir.
23. Was fond of owning a camera as a child. One day, his father surprised him by gifting him a box camera.
24. All-time favourite actress is Waheeda Rehman.
25. The great screen legend Nargis is indirectly responsible for the first meeting between Amitabh and Jaya. One nugget goes that Nargis had entrusted writer KA Abbas to acquaint Amitabh with theatre. Abbas had brought him to FTII where Shatranj Ke Khiladi was to be staged. There he met Jaya Bhaduri for the first time.
26. Asrani, Gulzar and Ramesh Behl represented the bridal party (as Jaya’s brothers) at the Amitabh-Jaya wedding.
27. Sanjay Gandhi was baraati from Amitabh’s side.
28. His mum Teji played Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s guardian during her wedding to Rajiv Gandhi.
29. “He didn’t ban Stardust. We had banned him.” – Nari Hira of Stardust magazine on Big B’s infamous media ban during Emergency.
30. Dilip Kumar’s Gunga Jumna is his favourite performance.
31. Salim-Javed made Amitabh. But it was Pran who persuaded director Prakash Mehra to cast the lanky star in Zanjeer, his breakout.
32. “He’s a better actor than Dilip Kumar.” – Naseeruddin Shah.
33. Has played Vijay in over 20 films.
34. Amitabh and the Gandhis used to vacation in the Andamans.
35. Harivanshrai Bachchan’s philosophical poem The New Generation is a reaction to a young Amitabh’s innocent question, “Why was I born?”
36. Spent eight years in Calcutta. First job was at Bird and Co.
37. In Calcutta, smoked 100 cigarettes a day. Today, he doesn’t smoke or drink and is a strict vegetarian.
38. Won the best actor trophy named after Shashi Kapoor’s father-in-law for Gogol’s play Inspector General in college at Sherwood, Nainital.
39. Bachchan was Harivanshrai’s pet name at home, which the family later adopted as surname.
40. In 1968, Mrinal Sen noticed Bachchan’s voice and offered him a two-minute’s voice-over in his film, Bhuvan Shome. Was paid Rs 300!
41. Affectionately calls his blog readers ‘EF’, short for extended family!
42. “When I used to visit my father after his accident on the sets of Coolie in 1982, seeing him connected to many drips and machines, he used to tell me they were kites that he had got for me. I was six years old. My father was fighting for his life and all I thought about was... why isn't he allowing me to play with these kites?” – Abhishek Bachchan on his dad’s near-fatal accident during Coolie.
43. ‘Mann ka ho toh acchha, aur na ho toh aur acchha’ – life philosophy.
44. Failed an audition at All India Radio as newsreader!
45. “Go anywhere with Amitabh and expect to be totally ignored (by the public).” – Harivanshrai in his memoir, the reference being to his son’s mounting popularity.
46. ‘Didibhai’ – Rekha’s pet name for Jaya.
47. “I did not resign from politics because of Bofors. I resigned because I do not know how to play petty politics.” –The Wall Street Journal, 2012.
48. Actor Tinnu Anand was originally cast in Saat Hindustani but he got a job to assist Satyajit Ray and the role of an Urdu poet eventually went to Amitabh.
49. Rs 5,000 – first movie pay-check.
50. 23 – Number of watches he has gifted friend Tinnu Anand.
51. The famous gibberish “sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated by the exuberance of your own verbosity’ in the Amar Akbar Anthony song ‘My Name is Anthony Gonzalves was the work of Amitabh himself.
52. On the first day of his acting class, Ranveer Singh performed a Big B scene from Deewaar.
53. Acted in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black for free.
54. Ranbir Kapoor has the privilege of being Bachchan for a day. As an assistant on the sets of Black, he body doubled for the superstar, but not before wrapping himself in five overcoats and a skull cap.
55. Favourite vegetable: Bhindi.
56. He once accidentally injured Vinod Khanna. The scene required him to fling a glass at his late friend.
57. Abhimaan – first film with Jaya after marriage.
Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan
58. Celebrates second birthday on August 2, the day he was reborn after doctors at Breach Candy hospital declared him clinically dead in the aftermath of 1982’s Coolie mishap.
59. As a young boy, Abhishek would reply to his dad’s playful ‘Hey, Tiger, what’s up’ with ‘Hey, leopard, I am fine!’
60. Refused Mr India for its “invisible man concept.”
61. “I've never met anyone like him. I have yet to come across a single man, woman, child who can help but fall completely, passionately, insanely, desperately, hopelessly in love with him.” – Rekha to Simi Garewal.
62. The Bachchan family was against him doing TV. But he ignored them and signed up for KBC, to repay his creditors.
63. The first radio spot he did was for Horlicks. ‘Har roz Horlicks peejiye.’
64. “For me, Amitji is God” – Rajinikanth.
65. Rajini dissuaded Amitabh from playing a villain in the blockbuster Robot.
66. "He was too trusting and too simple" – Jaya on ABCL’s fiasco.
67. Wears shoes with imprint of Libra, his star sign.
68. Loves to watch Gone with the Wind and The Godfather.
69. Director Baz Luhrmann dropped into meet Amitabh on a motorcycling trip around India. Some months later, he offered the superstar his first Hollywood project, The Great Gatsby.
70. “One day, this man will be a superstar.” – Jaya to an insecure Rajesh Khanna.
71. Favourite song: Waqt ne kiya from Kaagaz Ke Phool.
72. Stayed with comedian Mehmood and his brother Anwar Ali during his struggling years. Also lived with Milind Soman’s girlfriend Neerja Shah for a period at her Marine Drive flat. Neerja was his rakhi sister.
73. Salim-Javed first noticed him in Bombay to Goa “where I was chewing gum throughout the fight, as an indicator that I would be the right choice for Zanjeer! Goodness me, thank god for chewing gum and thank god that S&J noticed it!”
74. Jaya ties rakhi to lyricist Gulzar. And though Gulzar directed Jaya he has never worked with Amitabh. Exception being, Kajra Re written by him and featuring the Bachchans.
75. Jaya was pregnant with Shweta Bachchan in Sholay.