Written By Manvi Agarwal (Grade 12)
“Bad luck either destroys you or makes you the man or woman you really are.” – Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan is recognized as a one-man industry and is today the face of Indian cinema worldwide. His film career of becoming the Shahenshah of Bollywood was not a cakewalk. He had to face multiple rejections at the onset of his career, after which he established himself as a promising actor and what followed next was a period of superstardom. In the span of five decades, he has appeared in more than 200 movies and has received several awards, including the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan.
The megastar’s career had a rocky start and by his early thirties, he was declared a failed newcomer. His tall frame and heavy voice did not complement the image of a Hindi movie hero and thus were not welcomed by the film industry. He got his breakthrough with Prakash Mehra’s iconic movie ‘Zanjeer’ which gave birth to Bollywood’s Angry Young Man. At a time when “romantic heroes” were ruling the industry, the intense action script of the film was turned down by many actors. But, it became the turning point of Big B’s career and earned him his first Filmfare nomination.
1975 to 1982 was his period of fame and mega stardom. During the filming of the movie ‘Coolie’, he suffered from a severe injury. The fan-following of Mr Bachchan was so huge, that during the period of his recovery, his fans walked barefoot to temples and pilgrimage sites to pray for his well-being. Despite recovering from his injuries, his illness made him vulnerable and he decided to quit movies. After his comeback in 1988, his movies failed at the box office and thus he went into a semi-retirement of five years. During this period of retirement, he decided to try his hand at entrepreneurship, so he started his own entertainment company – ‘Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd’.
The company had early success, but its association with the Miss World beauty pageant, in 1996 proved to be a questionable decision. To fund it, the company undertook multiple loans which ultimately led to the burden of more than Rs. 100 crore debt. Due to back to back failures, the company collapsed and Amitabh Bachchan became bankrupt. At this time of crisis, ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, brought about a three-sixty degree change in his career graph. KBC along with the movie ‘Mohabbatein’ led to the end of his troubles and miseries.
Amitabh Bachchan started a new phase in his career by hosting the pop quiz show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ in the year 2000. The Bollywood superstar who was famous in the 80s and 90s for his powerful dialogues “Aaj khush toh bahut honge tum?”, “Rishte me to hum tumhare baap hote hai, naam hai Shahenshah” and many more, was replaced by the humble host with iconic phrases like “Deviyo aur sajjano”, “computerji iss jawab ko lock kiya jay”, “are you sure?” which reminds the young generation of a gentle Amitabh Bachchan who graces their television screens at 9 pm with his wit and set of anecdotes. Apart from the incentive of earning money, what drove people towards this show was the singular popularity of Mr Bachchan.
When the show had been pitched to him, he was not keen on being a part of it. His family and relatives advised him to not host the first season as it would dilute his position and status as the Star of the Millennium. Besides, no superstar had ever hosted a show on the small screen before Mr Bachchan himself. Despite the uncertainty and scepticism about entering the television industry, he flew to London with the show’s team to view a taping of the original ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’. He was finally convinced to host the show which eventually resurrected his career. His decision turned out to be game-changing, as the popularity of the show was unmatched and its first season garnered a frenzied response from captivated audiences all across India.
‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, with its high viewership and rising TRP ratings, made the audience realize that Bachchan could not only rule the big screen but also the small screen. At its premiere, the show had created such a rage among the viewers, that irrespective of what they were doing, it was mandatory for everyone to watch KBC at 9 pm sharp. The roads would be empty and the shops that would have KBC being showcased would have massive crowds gathered around them. Mr Bachchan himself is a man of few words and while presenting the first season, it took him a while to break the ice and get personal with the contestants. Slowly, he learned how to open up to them and now we see him as a reinvented man, who with his magnetic aura, warmly greats the nervous contestants on the “hot seat”, and regales them with his collection of stories and experiences. He adopts an altogether different persona while hosting this blockbuster show that has been airing for two decades now. Be it the sentimental and emotional contestant or the eager and passionate fan, he knows how to make them feel at home. With the magic and charm of Amitabh Bachchan, KBC became a huge success.
In the third season, due to the actor’s ill health, Shah Rukh Khan was approached to host it. Despite SRK’s wit and amiable personality, he could not fill in the shoes of the megastar. The strong baritone and the magic of Amitabh Bachchan were unbeatable. KBC brought him closer to his fans and audiences. With the income that he earned from KBC, he was able to pay off a majority of his debt. There was no scope of looking back for him, for what lay ahead for the veteran actor, were only super-hit movies like – ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’ and ‘Baghban’. ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ was a stepping stone that had helped Amitabh Bachchan rise to superstardom once again, just like a phoenix rises from its ashes. KBC has indeed mellowed down Indian Cinema’s Angry Young Man, and now the audience ardently waits for Mr Bachchan’s thick baritone to deliver “Chaliye aap aur hum khelte hain Kaun Banega Crorepati”. The tension, the moments of joy, the charisma of Amitabh Bachchan, and the enthusiasm of the audience are what make KBC a run-away hit!
Featured Image Courtesy – Hindustan Times