Amitabh Bachchan At 70: The Youngest Bachchan

Subhash K Jha and Amitabh Bachchan
Subhash K Jha and Amitabh Bachchan
Subhash K Jha and Amitabh Bachchan

There is no doubt that India has never seen and will never see a star-actor like Amitabh Bachchan.

But it’s the human-being that I admire even more. It’s the man who calls me his friend whom I look up to. A truer friend would be harder to find. This is the same super-icon who braved serious security hazards to come to my home in Patna, simply because he had promised he would.

To Amitji, a promise is inviolable. Though he was told that a visit to my home in Patna would be a threat to his security, Amitji came for dinner… and was greeted by 10,000 roaring fans in front of my house. My entire street was a sea of humanity.

I panicked, and even suggested he cancel the long-promised visit. My fears were unfounded. The minute Amitji’s cavalcade arrived the crowds parted to make way. He came out of the car and plunged right into the crowds with folded hands as the security guards and cops ran after him in naked nervousness.

That is the quintessential Amitabh Bachchan. Warm and approachable. Never afraid to reach out to those who love him.

This actually happened. A gentleman had been harassing Amitji for a ‘together’ photograph, a request he had been politely turning down for a while… until AB bumped into this persistent gentleman at a social gathering. Before he knew it the guy positioned himself next to AB and got them clicked together.

“The next thing I knew he wanted to use the picture on the cover of exercise books!” After all these years AB still can’t drive the amazement at human treachery out of his tones.

Though he’s by far the biggest icon of showbiz, his failure to come to terms with the mind-games that people play is inexplicable.

It’s very difficult to win AB’s confidence. Once you do, it’s even more difficult to lose his trust. He doesn’t trust easily. But when he finally does he trusts blindly and completely.

That’s why my bonding with the Bachchan is so precious. In his own special way he lets the other person know how special he is. While some of my other ‘close’ star- friends in Mumbai like to keep their friendship with me away from prying eyes AB is extremely demonstrative about his feelings for his true friends.

Many years ago when Kaun Banega Crorepati was blossoming and growing on television I got the surprise of my life when one evening AB announced to a contestant from Patna that a very dear friend of his lived in that city. It was a big moment and a turning point in my relationship with AB. In a way it was his way of acknowledging his trust in me. Until that point in my rapport with AB I didn’t really feel close to him the way I did with his wife Jaya or his son Abhishek.

In fact I met him long after I got to know Jaya, one of my all-time favorite actresses and, to my good fortune, now a close friend. For a long time I shied away from making an effort to connect with him. “You must meet him,” Jaya kept insisting for long.

During my very first interview with him, I covered my nervousness with cockiness and said, “Jaya steals the show each time the two of you come together in any movie.”

There was a disturbing silence. When like a fool I prodded him for an answer he replied, “What can I say to that?”

Since then, I’ve come to know it’s a part of Mr Bachchan’s basic nature to suffer in silence. “That’s the story of my life,” he recently said in an unguarded moment.

I sincerely believe no biography can do justice to the enigma called Amitabh Bachchan. We all know the suffering and humiliation that this mega-star has gone through as a public figure, first as a politician and then as an entrepreneur. Betrayed by those very people whom he trusted, no one knows how much he has gone through for simply being ‘Amitabh Bachchan’.

Subhash K Jha

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