Making his Hollywood debut as Meyer Wolfsheim in the 2013 film The Great Gatsby, Amitabh Bachchan's Bollywood career spans over four decades and nearly 200 films. In a May 2013 NDTV interview, Leonard DiCaprio had nothing but praise for Bachchan:
"He couldn't be a more gentle, wonderful individual to work with. And astoundingly talented. To come and play Meyer Wolfsheim in this movie and embody that roughness and a mystery, everything that comes out of his mouth is filled with so much more and so much presence. And then you see the camera cut and he's the perfect gentleman, just a joy to be around and a wonderful collaborator. He's a magnificent actor and I was honoured to work with him."
Born in 1942 and beginning his film career in 1969, the name Amitabh Bachchan - a.k.a. "Big-B" and "Bollywood's Shahenshah" - is synonymous with Hindi cinema. He has won numerous awards and nominations for his work and was recent named one of India's 25 Greatest Global Living Legends. In his acceptance speech, he gave the following three pieces of advice:
- "Never let negativity get you down; it's your incentive to fight back."
- "If things go your way great. If they don't better still."
- "Don't ever be a borrower. When you lend, make sure never to get it back..."
A tall man (6 foot 2 inches) with an impeccable style and a distinctive baritone voice, Amitabh Bachchan's presence in any role brings a certain quality and gravitas to the film.
If you are new to Bollywood, here are 5 recent films that highlight Big-B's wide-ranging artistry.
English Title: "Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness"
Release Date: 14 December 2001
Director: Karan Johar
Music by: Jatin Lalit, Sandesh Shandilya, Aadesh Shrivastava | Background score: Babloo Chakravarty
Description: Drama. Rich businessman Yashvardhan "Yash" Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan) and his wife Nandini (Jaya Bachchan) have raised two sons - Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) and Rohan (Hrithik Roshan). When Rahul decides to marry Anjali Sharma (Kajol) against his father's will, Yash disowns him. But young Rohan - who is attending boarding school - doesn't learn about the fall-out between his father and his brother until ten years later. He sets out to find his brother and bring him back home.
Why I Love This Film: This film focuses on the importance of family ties. While the film claims "it's all about loving your parents", it is more about loving each other. With an all-star cast, the item numbers are outstanding, the interactions powerful, and the story a reminder of the importance of putting love first.
Recognition: Nominated, Filmfare Best Supporting Actor
Description: Drama. Drawing inspiration from the story and struggles of Helen Keller, this is the story of Michelle McNally (Rani Mukerji), a blind and deaf girl and her teacher Debraj Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan). Because he is her connection to the world, the teacher and student become inseparable. However, as she grows up and he grows old, they go separate ways. When they meet up again, she becomes his support in his final days.
Why I Love This Film: Amitabh Bachchan walks into the role of teacher with great force and compassion. He is stubborn, rude, and arrogant but effective. While we've seen the initial premise of the story before, this film delves more deeply into the bond between teacher and student and the struggles of living in the "black." The story unfolds with a dignity and understanding that moves even the most dispassionate soul.
Recognition: Winner, Filmfare Best Actor Award; Winner, Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor; Winner, National Film Award for Best Actor
Description: Comedy drama. Ishwarchand "Ishu" Thakur (Amitabh Bachchan) loves his son Aditya Thakur (Akshay Kumar) very much. But this love has turned Aditya into a spoiled young man who relies on his parents for everything. When Aditya elopes with Pooja (Priyanka Chopra), the daughter of an eccentric neighbor Natu (Boman Irani), Ishu pays for their extended honeymoon. But a medical diagnosis makes Ishu realize that he must teach his son how to be responsible and independent - and he must teach him quickly.
Why I Love This Film: This is both a delightful and a heartbreaking story. But it is a film you'll want to watch several times. Ishu embraces life wholeheartedly and that is what translates into the deep love he shows for his family. And there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in the film as well as several outstanding item numbers.
Description: Comedy Drama. Auro (Amitabh Bachchan) is a 12-year-old boy with a quick wit and a good sense of humor. He also has progeria, a rare genetic disorder which results in accelerated aging. He lives with his mother Vidya (Vidya Balan), a doctors, and his grandmother (Arundhati Nag). After politician Amol Arte (Abhishek Bachchan) comes to his school, the two develop a bond of friendship. But they discover they share a deeper relationship.
Why I Love This Film: You never see "Amitabh Bachchan" the 60+ year-old actor in this film. You only see Auro and Auro is a 12-year-old boy who amicably challenges those around him. He is fascinating because you never really know what he is going to say or do next; however, you can tell he has thought carefully about how the world works. With this knowledge he arranges to achieve any goal he sets his mind to.
Recognition: Winner, National Film Award for Best Actor; Winner, Filmfare Best Actor Award; Winner, Best Actor, International Indian Film Awards; Winner, Star Screen Awards Jodi No. 1 (Amitabh and Abhishek).
Description: Ensemble cast, Romantic drama. Samarjit Singh Talwar (Amitabh Bachchan) is a fun-loving 60-something widower who we meet on the wedding day of his son Rishi Talwar (Abhishek Bachchan) to childhood friend Maya (Rani Mukerji). While "Sexy Sam" plays fast-and-loose with the ladies as a bachelor in his elder years, he begins to grow concerned as he witnesses problems arising in Rishi and Maya's marriage. Things become even more complicated when Dev Saran (Shah Rukh Khan), his wife Rhea (Preity Zinta), and his mother Kamaljeet (Kirron Kher) enter the picture.
Why I Love This Film: "Sexy Sam" is as rambunctious as a teenager but with the advantage of life experience and wisdom to draw on. He flirts, but never hurts. In the end, he helps the members of his small family confront the reality they've tried to ignore. The film also treats us to the entertaining item number "Rock N Roll Soniye" picturized on the Bachchan father and son duo.
Recognition: Nominated, Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award
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