The Stories Of The Bachchans Never Seem To End…
Ali Peter John
The Bachchan family, especially Amitabh Bachchan’s parents, Dr Harivanshrai Bachchan and Mrs Teji Bachchan were sitting at home in a state of concern. They were always against Amitabh doing a B-grade stunt film like“Zanjeer”. They were his big support during all the ten or eleven flop films he did, but they still wanted him to work with what they felt were sensible directors who made meaningful films and“Zanjeer”was not the film they felt was the film that could do any good to his failing career…..
The director of“Zanjeer”, Prakash Mehra had a special trial of his film at the preview theatre of the then Natraj Studio. He had invited the Bachchans too, but they were not interested in seeing their son doing what they considered a good for nothing film. They asked Nitin Mukesh, the son of the singer Mukesh who was working as an assistant to Hrishikesh Mukherjee to see the film and give them a sincere report.
The film ended at around nine-thirty pm and there was a huge round of applause, Amitabh was declared the next superstar. Prakash Mehra instantly arranged a party in the compound of the studio, but Nitin Mukesh rushed to where the Bachchans were anxiously waiting for him and he gave them a factual report of how the film was received and how people clapped during every dialogue spoken by Amitabh and especially the scene in which he kicks the chair on which the veteran actor playing the bad man till that scene tries to sit in the chair facing Amitabh who plays Inspector Vijay who is a no-nonsense police officer for which“crime”he is transferred several times. The Bachchans couldn’t believe what Nitin Mukesh was telling them and Mukesh was trying his best to convince them that Amitabh was the next superstar.
The film was released in the following week and at twelve in the afternoon Amitabh was the same flop actor, but at three pm, the whole country received him as the successor to Rajesh Khanna. The Bachchans decided never to interfere in anything to do with their son’s career and Amitabh took one long stride after another and the same Dr Harivanshrai Bachchan later became one of Amitabh’s most ardent fans and even when he was very sick, he made sure that he was brought down from his bed to watch an Amitabh Bachchan film which had become some kind of a ritual at Amitabh’s bungalow….
Dr Bachchan once told me this little story which spoke volumes for his humility in his greatness. He said, whenever he was in Bombay visiting Amitabh to encourage him during his flop days, he used to go for a regular walk with some of his poet and writer friends and some people looked at him and said,“woh dekho Madhushala likhne wala mahaan kavi ja raha hai”.
The scene changed for Dr Bachchan after the release and success of“Zanjeer”. He continued going for his evening walks and now people were pointing out to him and saying,“woh dekho Amitabh Bachchan ja raha hai”.
That evening Dr Bachchan is said to have told Amitabh that he had accomplished his job and wanted to go back to Delhi, but it was the love and respect of his successful son that made him stay back and he stayed back till the very end when he died at “Prateeksha”with Amitabh sitting at his feet till his body was carried away and cremated at an age old crematorium near“Prateeksha”for which he had to take special permission from the Municipal authorities because even in his extreme grief he knew that he didn’t want his popularity to turn his father’s funeral into a“tamaasha”.
Amitabh always believed that his father was a bigger star than him and he was no patch on his popularity. He said this on the basis of his attending all the kavi sammelans and mushairas held all over India and he had the privilege of accompanying his father and being a witness to the hysteria his recitals of his poetry was recieved with wherever he went.
Neither Dr Bachchan not Amitabh himself can forget that afternoon when Amitabh was passing through the worst phase of his career. He was driving with his father in the streets, somewhere in Andheri. A beggar boy looked away from Amitabh and looking back at Dr Bachchan said,“kya re budde kaisi panvati aur manhoos aulad paida kiya”? The father and son did not say a word till they reached home.
Amitabh was always a great fan of his father and knew every line he had written by heart, especially the entire“Madhushala”.
Everyone has been talking about Amitabh’s dedication and determination, but I think very few know about how he inherited these qualities from his father. He always remember the story of how his father used to go for a walk every morning while they were living in Allahabad. The entire family was surprised to see a huge rock outside the door. It was only after a long time that someone asked Dr Bachchan how this“miracle”happened and he told them that miracles had nothing to do with what he had done. He had seen the rock and had decided that he would take it home one day. He knew it was very difficult for him to do it alone, but with determination, he could certainly do. He pushed the rock a little further every morning and this exercise done without giving up hope was how the rock landed outside their door. It was on this day that he gave Amitabh a line which Amitabh still remembers, a line which said,“jo ho toh achcha, jo na ho toh aur bhi achcha”. It was the ultimate definition of undying optimism.
Another incident of the dedication of Dr Bachchan. He wrote for hours with a fountain pen which he dipped in a pot of ink. He had a glass of hot water on a wooden table at which he sat in a wooden chair and wrote and whenever his singers ached, he dipped his aching fingers into the glass and then continued writing….
With a father like Dr Bachchan, Amitabh had to be the Amitabh Bachchan he has been for the last fifty years and if he follows his father, may be many, many years.
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