The Humiliation Of Mr Bachchan, The True Story
As Amitabh Bachchan stands on the threshold of one more inning in his illustrious career at seventy-six, I think it will only be in the fitness of things to remember the first of the many rounds of humiliation and all the ups and downs he has faced like no other man has faced….
He had a very cushy and comfortable life as a junior executive in Bird and Co. in Calcutta, but he had the fire to be an actor burning in him, a fact which was best known to his mother, Mrs Teji Bachchan, who kept visiting him in Calcutta….
In one of her many meetings with her best friend, Mrs Indira Gandhi, who was then the I&B Minster, she told her about her Munna’s ambition to be an actor in Hindi films…
Mrs Gandhi only knew one family in the film industry quite well and they were Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt. She wrote a note to them asking them to help her friend’s son, Amitabh Bachchan find an opening as an actor….
Mr Sunil Dutt was in Calcutta with his best friend and associate, Raaj Grover with him. Dutt lived at the Grand Hotel and Grover lived with a relative who lived in Oakland Park in Karnani Estate. It was while Dutt was at his hotel that he met Mrs Teji Bachchan who told him about her son’s desire to make it as an actor.
Dutt sent for Grover and introduced him to Mrs Bachchan as the man who could make his magic wand work for her son. Dutt asked Grover to fix up a meeting with the young men at his place.
Mrs Bachchan said“Munna”would personally meet Mr Grover wherever he wanted soon after he finished his work in office. A meeting was fixed between Mr Grover and“Munna”at five-thirty in the evening. Mr Grover who was out came back to keep his appointment with“Munna”and Mr Grover found that“Munna”had reached at five pm sharp. It was a sign of the times to come for Munna who was destined to ride every crest of success, all because of his value for time. The two men discussed the kind of strategy they would follow in Bombay…
“Munna”, now known as Amitabh Bachchan had already appeared for the Filmfare Talent Contest and was rejected, but he had still not given up hope…..
Mr Grover had fixed his first meeting with the pioneer filmmaker, B.R Chopra. Chopra who was considered as a master filmmaker who could recognised talent within moments kept the photograph of Amitabh which Grover had got from me Harbind Kumar who was a heart of the jury of Filmfare Contest aside as if he didn’t see any future for the young men in the photograph. Grover then whispered into the ears of Chopra and told him the boy was the son of the well-known Hindi poet, Dr Harivanshrai back and had a letter of recommendation from Mrs Indira Gandhi herself. Chopra’s attitude changed and he tip top the photographers again and said,,“kuch toh hi sakta hai friends and he called his fellow filmmaker, Mohan Segal to have a look at the boy…
Grover and the boy reached the studio where Segal was shooting for his film, “Saajan”which Manoj Kumar in the week. Grover told Segal what he had told Chopra earlier, but it didn’t teamed to make any impact on Sehgal. She was however kind to ask Grover himself to do an audition test with the play boy. Grover had a poem he had written for his lady love which he asked the young and aspiring actor to review in his own way. He however couldn’t take any decision on his own and the struggle for the son or son of Harivanshrai Bachchan, In spite of having the strong recommendation from Mrs Gandhi(of Mrs Gandhi), continued…
The next stop for the young Amitabh Bachchan was the office of Seth Tarachand Barjatya, the head of the Rajshri Empire. He had already been briefed about the boy by Nargis Dutt. The Seth had a distant look at a young boy and it seemed like he was looking through him and behind him. He then talked to the young man and said,“Young man, why don’t you write poetry like your father? You also have very long legs, why don’t you try playing football”?
Amitabh had seen how the response to film was growing from worse to worse and he decided to go back to Calcutta, a depleted young men. at one point, Grover himself planned to make a film with him called “Sanskaar”which was based on a story written by his friend, Kanak Mishra, but things had not worked out….
And finally Dutt signed him but for his mega film, “Reshma Aur Shera”in which he was cast as a dumb young man when it was already known that he had a very strong baritone voice. At the same time he was signed by K.A Abbas as the seventh Indian in his film, “Saat Hindustani”for which he was paid five thousand rupees for the entire film which was shot for forty days in Goa….
He had to face many more rounds of humiliation till Prakash Mehra signed him for “Zanjeer”after star like Dev Anand, Raaj Kumar and Dharmendra had turned down and he created history when he kicked the chair found on which Pran, the local strongman was about to sit and he spoke the lines, “yeh police station hai, tumhare baap ka ghar nahi hai”. At twelve noon, he was still the struggling star, but at three pm, he had witnessed the ruling superstar Rajesh Khanna and was declared the new superstar and was branded as “The angry youngman”who was the representative of the mood of the youth of the times.
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