That One Minute Which Changes Amitabh Bachchan’s Life…
Ali Peter John
There may be millions of memorable moments in the seventy – five year old career of Amitabh Bachchan but there are a few which turned his life and career upside down, like this one……
He had just done two films, “Saat Hindustani” and “Anand” and was still on very shaky ground. He did not find the joy of achieving something extraordinary or even the joy of finding work he was eager to find and do justice to with his talent …
He was living with the well-known comedian Mehmood because he had become a very good friend of Mehmood’s younger brother, Anwar Ali with whom he had worked in “Saat Hindustani”. The brothers, especially Mehmood took very good care of his “lamboo hero”….
Mehmood who kept making films which were in a class of their own was now planning to make “Bombay to Goa” which was all about a group of men, women and children of all ages and even a “Cobra”. There were no big stars who were willing to work in the film as every star of the time knew that with Mehmood in the film, they would have nothing to do. Mehmood however got his “girlfriend” Aroona Irani to play the leading lady and the rest of the cast comprised of popular comedians and character artists
The film was to be jointly produced by “Bhai Sahab” (the name Mehmood was given by the entire Industry) and producer N.C Sippy who had earlier produced “Anand” with Hrishikesh Mukherjee who was also the director. All was well till the unit had to leave on its journey by bus to Goa. But they had still to find a hero who could sing songs with Aroona and fight with a newly found villain called Shatrughan Sinha fresh from the FTII. Mehmood and the director, the well –known S. Raamnathan were worried about not finding a proper hero….
Mehmood and Raamnathan (they all called him “Sir”) who had directed stars from the south like Sivaji Ganesan, MGR, NTR, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth were standing below the office of N.C Sippy at the Ranjit Studios and discussing their problem about finding a hero before meeting Sippy..
It was while they were talking that a tall and lanky young man wished Raamnathan and touched his feet before running up the stairs to meet his friend, Romu Sippy, the elder son of N.C Sippy who was also a very good friend of the rising star Jaya Bhaduri.
Raamnathan kept looking at the tall man and on an impulse asked Mehmood “ ye ladka kaun hai?” and before Mehmood could complete giving his introduction , Raamnathan said, “Bhai Sahab iss ladke ko hum hero kyon nahi le sakte?” Mehmood who was the comedian thought Raamnathan was joking, but still called the young man down and told him that Raamnathan had found his hero for “Bombay to Goa” in him. The young man who had faced a great deal of rumination felt it was one more joke being made of him. But Raamnathan was very serious and asked the young man to get ready to go to Goa as he was the hero of “ Bombay to Goa”. That young man was Amitabh Bachchan.
He was awkward in the romantic and dancing scenes with Aroona , but he was at his very best in the action sequences with Shatrughan Sinha.
It was the action scenes he did with Shatrughan that caught the attention of the writers Salim – Javed who were especially sent to see the actor by director Prakash Mehra who had heard the two veteran actors Pran and Om Prakash talk very highly about him.
Mehra was desperately looking for a hero for his film , “Zanjeer” after Dev Anand, Dharmendra and Raaj Kumar had turned down his offer for reasons best known to them. Mehra had also heard the heroine, Jaya Bhaduri praising the new actor and it seemed as if Mehra was destined to cast the actor from “Anand” and “Bombay to Goa” in his all – action film “Zanjeer”. Amitabh was the angry inspector Vijay in ”Zanjeer” and when he kicked the chair on which the Pathan – villain Pran was to sit on, he had kicked himself to a new high and the masses and even the critics accepted him as the new superstar to replace Rajesh Khanna who was going through the worst patch of his career and then had no chance of re-claiming his place as the first ever superstar of India, because Amitabh or rather his image as the angry young man of the new generation never gave him a chance to rise again, a fact that made him go up to the terrace of his bungalow “ Aashirwaad” and cry out , “why me, god ? . And even god was not willing to listen to his cry..
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