He just gets better, say Ramesh Sippy and other directors

Amitabh Bachchan@80: It just gets better, say Ramesh Sippy and other directors

– A look back at Big B and Ramesh Sippy. (courtesy of rameshsippy47)


He’s 80 and stronger than ever, reeling off celluloid “miles” as the roles roll in and directors are still lining up to sign him. Amitabh Bachchan, it is said, was and still is an exciting actor, perhaps the best ever. By Ramesh Sippy, who directed him in the 1975 cult film Scholay to Ayan Mukerji piloting his latest Brahmastra 47 years later, Bachchan is the man for all seasons and all types of films.

“What a wonderful innings it’s been and he just keeps getting better. He has played so many different roles in comedy, drama, romance, dance and song. He can do anything and everything perfectly. Was there anyone bigger or better? doubt it,” Ramesh Sippy told PTI as the star celebrates his 80th birthday on Tuesday. It’s been just four days since it was last posted Goodbye.

“It’s a big deal for me to have Mr. Bachchan work in my film. He is the father of Indian cinema. He’s the most respected person in the film industry,” added Mukerji.

His debut with the relatively low profile Saat Hindustani 1969, remembered primarily for all these years as serving as his launch pad, exploded on screen with Bachchan Zanjeer 1973

There was no turning back after that, and storytellers across five decades are still trying to unravel the success of the man who keeps reinventing himself – the “angry young man”. Zanjer, Don and deewarthe amiable, funny professor of chupke chupke and the contradictory singing star of Abhimaan in the 1970s.

Then came the 1980s with movies like Shakti and Silsila. The 1990s saw a slump in Bachchan’s career and many films including Mrityudata and Lal Baajahrefueled at the box office.

Bachchan was back in the billing as a television presenter in the following decade Kaun Banega Crorepati in 2000. Twenty-two years later, the show is still running. This is also the time when Bachchan transitioned to age-appropriate characters in films. It started with Mohabbatein and continues with varied roles, be it pink, Cheeni Cum or Jhund.

Sippy remembered casting for Scholaywho saw Bachchan and Dharmendra as two friends “strong as thieves”.

“I had seen two of his earlier films – anand in which he had a serious role, it was a difficult role and he stood out, and From Bombay to Goa, where he played a lighter and more exuberant role, which really impressed me. We signed him.” A few months later Zanjeer and dewar released. By the time Scholay came, he was the rising star, added the veteran filmmaker.

Sippy who has also collaborated with Bachchan Shakti, Schaan and akaylasaid it’s exciting to see the megastar recreate the magic on screen even after all these years, both big and small.

“There’s been a lot of good actors and there’s absolute respect for everyone, but he definitely stands above everything,” he said.

You may be in awe of him, but all Bachchan directors have experimented with the roles they have offered him.

R Balki, who first worked with Bachchan on an ad campaign, gave him Cheeni Cumwhere Bachchan is an arrogant chef in his sixties romanticizing a much younger taboo, and couple In it, the star plays a 12-year-old boy who suffers from progeria.

“Every filmmaker thinks of Mr Bachchan first, everyone would love to have the chance to work with him. We all came to the cinema as his fans. I’ve been luckier than some people. I’ve been writing my films for him for a few years now, my next film,” Balki told PTI. The filmmaker’s other ventures — Ki & Ka, pad man and Chup: The Artist’s Revenge – show the veteran star in a special appearance.

“There is one word to describe Amit ji and it is Amitabh Bachchan. There are no other words… It’s become like a character itself. It has so much meaning, you can say, persona, dignity, grace, power, voice, achievement, everything is put together. There is a character called Amitabh Bachchan. This character is a rare phenomenon,” said Balki.

For new age directors – Ayan Mukerji and Ribhu Dasgupta – the opportunity to direct Bachchan is nothing short of a dream.

While Mukerji cast Bachchan as the guru in his astraverse sci-fi film, Dasgupta directed Bachchan in the TV series Yudh (2014) and 2016 mystery thriller Te3n.

Dasgupta went to great lengths to keep his fanboy self out of the picture. “I am from Calcutta and we worship him there. There is an Amitabh Bachchan Temple in Kolkata. But when I was conducting it, I had to keep the fanboy out. Also, sir knows everything, where the camera should be, what and where the light should be, etc. He sees what the person in front of him is doing,” Dasgupta said.

Bachchan has already had three theatrical releases this year – directed by Nagraj Manjule JhundAjay Devgns runway 34 and Brahmastra.

His latest film Goodbye, directed by Vikas Bahl, opens on Friday. Now he is awaiting release Uunchaidirected by Sooraj Barjatya.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a syndicated feed.)

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