Why the Bachchan legend is a never-ending celebration
Endurance, adaptability and self-belief is the lessons we all can learn from Amitabh Bachchan
- Total Shares
I promise not to say a word about the star we all love to bits. I will not even name him, given that most of us 1.2 billion Indians have wished him the very best on his birthday. I will not say that I can't get over his Hindi diction, the way he retains linguistic links to his zameen.
But let's just take a look at his life, through his trials and travails. All that he is today is the sum total of so much failure, distress, disease and plain bad luck. That he bounced back from it all is what makes the man who he is.
From the very beginning he grew up in close proximity to power, but like the morally strong Indians of that era, when graft, nepotism and contacts were not considered a short cut, the young lanky man spent hours in a coffee house with a degree and no job, lamenting his sorry lot with others of his ilk, to the point that he burst out at his illustrious father, questioning why did he have to be born.
Of course, the near poet laureate of India wrote a sarcastically cunning verse in reply which can be lost in humour but is as good as a nice, tight slap on the son's cheek.
We don't need to repeat the struggling days of early Bollywood or the 'overnight' success of his films after sundry flops…the myth, the legend, the crowds and adulation that were to follow.
Amitabh Bachchan tumbled from the heights of stardom to a string of flops and looming bankruptcy. Photo: Facebook/Amitab Bachchan
And then, like the game of snakes and ladders, he gets swallowed right at the top. Next to the pinnacle and nearly loses his life and everything else. I don't think there is any other celebrity who made an entire nation cry as one or pray together.
Then came the years of political loyalty, which cost him a lot of his sheen and shine. It was an ugly coincidence that this was when he stepped into middle age - the receding hairline, the sagging middle and the jowls - and no longer could he romance young girls.
Some of his films in those days were a pathetic embarrassment, unviewable despite the Meenakshi Seshadris of the world. The downslide was so rapid that it left us all breathless. Followed by financial turmoil and looming bankruptcy, none of us die-hard supporters ever thought he would recover.
We watched him alone and brooding from the sides of our eyes and we felt the vacuum, his intensity, his comic timing, the perfect, deep baritone. We would sigh and get video tapes of old favourites, Saudagar, Do Anjaane, Chupke Chupke and Sharaabi. He knew his craft as an actor and he knew that he needed to get back to work and he was humble enough to go to Yash Chopra to ask for a job.
A situation many of us have seen in our own careers. When pride has no place in the grand scheme of things. There are children and their futures, elderly parents and a shaky marriage. One needs that reassurance, the sense of fulfilment, and for most of us, it comes from a job well done.
After that he built a new category for himself. Though we do want to punish him for disasters like Buddha hoga tera baap, but Black, Eklavya and that K3G! I watch it again and again for the parampara. And it was as if he had been filled with dervish-like energy. He has struggled, fallen, risen to unbelievable heights, fallen and fallen again, lost everything and risen again.
And it appears that he never wants to be in that 'insecure' position ever again. He has been akin to silver screen divinity, but he knows that he is just human. And therein lies the most important legacy of this unbelievable man. That no matter how wonderful and famous you are, you can still find yourself staring into the abyss and it is only self-belief, hard work and unrelenting confidence that will put you back in the black.
The new Bachcahn refuses to be caught into controversies. He still speaks the most pristine version of Hindi. Photo: India Today
Look at the way he handles his social media, with just the right balance of personal and the distant. We can look in awe at his finesse with technology and his ability to manage the expectations of millions without making a mockery of his name or his brand. There is much he can teach his younger cohorts.
T 2577 -????, ????? ????, ?? ??? ?? ; ??? ???? ?? ?? ??? ?? ; ?? ?? ?? ?????? ??, ?? ?? ???? ??? ????? ~ ab pic.twitter.com/DPmWjfPjEo— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) October 12, 2017
T 2574 - BPKSNLJS : bina parishram ke saans nahin lee ja sakti .. ???? ??????? ?? ???? ???? ?? ?? ???? pic.twitter.com/QMmPhYNXMg— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) October 10, 2017
The lamp post who couldn't dance can now swerve and swirl with a bevy of international dancers. He can wear so many tongues in one single ad extension. He refuses to be caught into controversies. He still speaks the most pristine version of Hindi. And like Shakira's song about a love for Spanish, he makes us mongrels wish we could speak it as well as him. And he is a feminist.
Forget the name on the marquee, the affiliations and alliances, the friends and the foes. Take a lesson from this extraordinary life where he has always battled failure and survived and found his way to the top, not once but many times over.
As if he has a personal mantra which says don't give up, never give up, and with a little help from the winds of destiny, you will walk out of the maze intact. That, in essence, is the mark of a life well-lived, and not that different from us ordinary mortals. We suffer setbacks, financial ruin, despondency… but then we give up. He did not, and that makes him enduring across ages.