Stories Of The Big B’s Rejections Can Teach Lessons For The Lifetime
Ali Peter John
Like many other young men from high middle class family,he too had graduated and did not know what to do next. His father, Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan asked him to do whatever he liked and his mother, Mrs Teji Bachchan, did not want to interfere in the young man’s life at that very crucial stage and he almost got upset with them. He did not want to study any further.
- He first applied for the job of an announcer with All India Radio, but was rejected because of his voice and the rejection was both for the posts of the Hindi and English announcers.
- Some of his friends told him that he could get a good job in some ‘English office’ in Calcutta and they were right. He got a good job in an English firm called Bird & Co. Where the salary was good and he could have a lot of time to himself which he sometimes spent in doing amateur English theatre.
- It was while he was in Calcutta at this stage that he and his brother called Ajitabh, saw an ad in the then popular film magazine, ‘Filmfare’, which asked young man to join the “Filmfare-United Producers Talent Contest”. The brothers were impressed by the names of the producers and applied. Amitabh was called for the contest, but was rejected in the preliminary rounds itself and a dejected Amitabh and his brother went back to Calcutta not to return for another seven years.
- Till K.A Abbas faced a crisis during the casting of his low-budget film,“Saat Hindustani”. His assistants and actor Tinnu Anand wanted to opt out of the film to join Satyajit Ray as his thirteenth assistant and Abbas threatened him lovingly (Tinnu as all the other actors called Abbas ‘mamujaan’) that he would not let him join Ray till he got him a replacement. Tinnu remembered that he had the photograph of a young man given to him by Sheila, his girlfriend from Delhi in the back pocket of his trousers. He had taken out the photograph and shown it to Abbas and Abbas without even looking at it properly told Tinnu to ask the man in the photograph to come to Bombay and he would pay him his ordinary class train fare from wherever he was coming from. That man was Amitabh Bachchan and the rest is more than history.
But there are some more stories about his being rejected.
- A friend of Sunil Dutt, Raaj Grover who was given the task of introducing the new Amitabh to filmmakers had taken him to Seth Tarachand Bharjatya, the founder of the Rajshri empire. The ‘Sethji’ had one disdainful look at Amitabh and asked him why he didn’t write poetry like his father or on second thoughts, the ‘Sethji’ said,“ he had long legs and he could try playing football”. That was a disastrous meeting for Amitabh, but years later, he was the hero of a Rajshri film called “Saudagar”, with Nutan, one of his favourite actresses as his leading lady.
- The same Raaj Grover had taken Amitabh to Mohan Segal, one of the leading filmmakers of the time who asked Grover why Sunil Dutt and Grover were wasting his time over a man who had absolutely no future. He asked Grover to do an audition with him himself and Grover who was a leading PRO had asked Amitabh to enact a love letter he (Grover) had written to his girlfriend.
- There can be a complete book written about the rejections and the humiliations faced by Amitabh between “Saat Hindustani” and “Zanjeer”, but there can never be anything worse than this little story. Amitabh was facing the most dark times of his career. He was driving with his ‘superhero’, his father, somewhere in the suburb of Andheri. He had given a string of flops. His car had come to a stop at a traffic signal, when a young beggar on wheels approached the car and did not even look at Amitabh, but when he saw his father, he guessed that it must be his father and proudly said,“kya re budde aise panauti aulad kyon paida ki tune?”
It was during all this dark and despairing times that Amitabh had only one source of inspiration that kept him going and that was his father and the two lines of his father that still keep guiding him now when he is seventy-seven and the winner of the Padmavibhushan and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award are ‘mann ka ho toh achcha,mann ka na ho toh aur bhi achcha’ and ‘sangharsh mei jeevan hai,aaj achcha nahi hai toh kya,kal achcha hoga’.
And being a very close witness to the saga of Amitabh Bachchan, I can only ask aise hi thodi na koi Amitabh Bachchan ban jaata hai?
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