Amitabh Bachchan can easily be called the Man for All Seasons. The legendary actor has been redefining rules from the time he first entered the film industry – the first being that of the conventionally good-looking hero that was prevalent in those days.
He then went on to become the face of the angry young man with his films. He began headlining films that channelised the unrest of the youth caught in the socio-political change. He became the brooding hero who fought the system for the poor and needy and provided aspirational social justice, be it in Deewar or Trishul.
Cinema began to change with time, but Bachchan still stood tall as he kept pace the changes. He found a place for himself, which unfortunately Dilip Kumar couldn’t make for himself, post his hero days.
Creating history on television
While tough times pushed the actor to take on television in 2000, he created history even on that medium with Kaun Banega Crorepati and continues to enjoy immense popularity with it. Senior film journalist Dilip Thakur recalls, “During those days working in TV was considered down-market. When a report claimed that actress Juhi Chawla will be seen on TV, her manager KS Sanjay panicked and sent out clarification to the media. But Bachchan came and changed the perception. He set the trend of superstars doing television shows. He seamlessly entered your living room and connected directly with his audiences and fans, which actors like Salman Khan picked and emulated successfully.”
Getty social media savvy
Bachchan has always kept up with the times– his blog and social media activities are proof of that. In initial days he was a little iffy about what was written about him in the media and did use his blog as retort but he has sobered down over time.
Producer NR Pachisia agrees and adds, “He has always been ahead of his times and shown other actors the way. Look at his popularity during the pandemic . He set the trend of making movies sitting at home, which his colleagues, young and old, have started doing, too. He even shot the promo of his quiz show, KBC sitting at home. If the ban on the presence of 65-plus actors on the sets is lifted, I bet he will be the first one to step out to shoot.”
Taking the digital release plunge
Bachchan has been experimenting with cinema and taking risks that no actor of today would dare to. Right from Pa, 102 Not Out, Pink, and now, Gulabo Sitabo. He is also fulfilling the wishes of those who have been wanting to work with him for years together. Today’s generation finds him a complete cool dude on sets.
Says Pachisia,”He is definitely a cool dude. I just saw the interview of the director of the film, Gulabo Sitabo, who said that Mr Bachchan immediately agreed to the plan of digital release, however Ayushmaan Khurrana took time to say yes to it. Bachchan even said in his social media post that he was honoured to be part of another change. He joined the film industry in 1969 and in the 51 years since he has seen many changes and challenges, he noted. The digital release of his film, Gulabo Sitabo was another challenge and he was honoured to be part of yet another change
Life after OTT
While most are happy that Bachchan is setting a precedent for stars to release their films straight on OTT, exhibitor Akshaye Rathi is a little disappointed. He says, “The fact that he’s been relevant for 50 years as a superstar means that he has the ability, the vision, and capability of being ahead of his times. He has been setting trends for decades with the kind of work he has done on television and now, with OTT. Having said that, as an exhibitor it is disheartening for me to not have a Bachchan film release in cinema halls. We have all grown up listening to stories about the kind of magic he creates on the silver screen. But at the same time as a fan of the man, all power and success to him in whatever he does. But I hope to see him back on the silver screen because that is where he belongs.”