Amitabh Bachchan, known as the ‘Shahenshah of Bollywood’, celebrated his 74th birthday last month amidst the success of his latest movie, Pink. His most successful film in recent years, Pink addresses questions of consent in a world wherein rape culture is increasingly normalized. His powerful performance in the movie is bound to make any eventual shortlist of his iconic roles.
We enjoyed compiling such a list. Here it is:
#1. Anand (1971)
In Anand, we get to see Amitabh while he was still an actor and not a star. He plays the role of a young doctor named Bhaskar Banerjee in this movie by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Anand, played by Rajesh Khanna, is a terminally ill character in the movie. Bhaskar’s encounter with Anand changes his cheerless outlook on life. Anand won the 1972 Filmfare award for Best Film and has become a timeless classic.
#2. Zanjeer (1973)
In Zanjeer, Amitabh plays the role of a police officer who goes after the men who murdered his parents when he was young. Zanjeer was the first movie to portray Amitabh as an angry young man, in a departure from his previous, guy-next-door roles. At a time when there was a lot of unemployment and unrest in society (India of the mid-1970s), the angry young man persona caught on with the masses and set Amitabh on the path to becoming a major star.
#3. Abhimaan (1973)
Abhimaan is another successful Hrishikesh Mukherjee film starring Amitabh Bachchan. This movie was released immediately after Amitabh and his talented co-star, Jaya Bhaduri tied the knot in real life. The story is loosely based on the lives of legendary playback singer Kishore Kumar and his first wife, Ruma Ghosh.
#4. Deewar (1975)
In Deewar, Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor portray the lives of two brothers, Vijay and Ravi, who struggle to survive in Mumbai. Vijay becomes a gangster and Ravi, a do-gooder police officer who wouldn’t think twice about bringing his own brother to book.
#5. Sholay (1975)
Sholay is considered a classic and it is one of the biggest grossing Indian films. Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra play the roles of Veeru and Jai, two jailbirds who help a retired police officer settle scores with a dreaded bandit named Gabbar Singh.
#6. Don (1978)
Amitabh Bachchan appears in a double role in this iconic Hindi movie, playing the elusive gangster Don and his lookalike Vijay. After Don dies in a police chase, an officer named D’Silva convinces Vijay to impersonate Don until all the other members of Don’s gang are captured. Things turn for the worse for Vijay when D’Silva dies and the rest of the police force refuse to accept Vijay’s real identity.
#7. Namak Halaal (1982)
Amitabh Bachchan’s comedic role in Namak Halaal was a refreshing break from his action-filled, angry-young-man movies. Although the movie is full of Bollywood cliches such as falling in love with the person you were assigned to kill, and of families separated and then reunited, Namak Halaal has one too many comic scenes from Amitabh Bachchan to make up for the twisted plot line.
#8. Coolie (1983)
It was on the sets of Coolie that Amitabh Bachchan suffered a near-fatal accident while filming a fight sequence. Tens of thousands of fans prayed for him and waited outside the hospital until he recovered. He filmed the rest of the movie after a brief break. His character was supposed to die in the original script. However, the ending was altered and his character was not killed off so that it wouldn’t upset his fans.
#9. Agneepath (1990)
Agneepath follows the story of a young boy whose father gets murdered. To avenge his innocent father’s death, he grows up to be the king of the underworld. Amitabh’s skillful portrayal of a mobster, along with the film’s dialogues, make this movie a favorite of many. It also fetched him his first National Award for acting.
#10. Hum (1991)
Hum was Amitabh Bachchan’s most successful movie in the early ’90s, before his self-imposed break of five years. Amitabh plays the role of Tiger, the son of a dockworker. His father and step-mother are murdered by Bakhtawar, a mobster who controls the Mumbai docks. Amitabh and his stepbrothers move to Ooty and lead a normal life until Bakhtawar gets released from prison.
#11. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001)
Amitabh Bachchan won many more hearts through his role as the strict, Yashwardhan Raichand in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. His character disowns his adopted son Rahul, played by Shah Rukh Khan, for marrying below their class. 10 years and many songs later, they reconcile.
#12. Black (2005)
In Black, Amitabh Bachchan plays the role of a teacher for the deaf and blind. The parents of Michelle, a young, deaf, and blind 8-year-old girl, entrust him with the task of managing and teaching Michelle. The movie beautifully captures their teacher-student relationship and the ups and downs in the life of differently-abled people.
#13. Sarkar (2005)
In Sarkar, Amitabh Bachchan plays the role of Subhash Nagre, an influential community leader living in Mumbai. His followers refer to him as Sarkar because he delivers justice on demand. With Bachchan’s character loosely based on the late Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackeray, Sarkar gives us a glimpse into Marathi politics.
#14. Paa (2009)
In Paa, Amitabh Bachchan takes on the role of Auro, a 12-year-old boy with progeria, a genetic disorder in which the symptoms of rapid aging get manifested shortly after birth. His son, Abhishek Bachchan plays his father in this movie.
#15. Piku (2016)
Amitabh Bachchan plays the role of Deepika Padukone’s eccentric father in this comedy-drama. The movie follows their journey from Delhi to their ancestral home in Kolkata, where he breathes his last.
Featured image courtesy of Indian Express.
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