Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan has turned 80 on October 11, 2022. Bachchan is one of the most popular actors in the world, and has spent more than five decades of his life in service to Indian cinema. Besides his powerful onscreen presence, Bollywood’s Shahenshah has continued mesmerising the audience with his famous baritone voice. Tributes have started pouring in from all corners to honour the legend on his 80th birthday.

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Who is Amitabh Bachchan?

Amitabh Bachchan is regarded as one of the most influential personalities in Indian film history. Born in 1942 to poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan, a social activist, he completed his education from Delhi’s Kirori Mal College.

Bachchan began his career in films as a narrator for the 1969 film Bhuvan Shome by Mrinal Sen. It was the 1973 release Zanjeer, a film penned by screenwriting duo Salim-Javed, which saw Bachchan rise to superstardom as Hindi cinema’s “angry young man”. He continued his collaboration with Salim-Javed on a number of films in the 1970s and early 1980s, including Majboor (1974), Deewar (1975), Sholay (1975), Don (1978), Shaan (1980), Kaala Patthar (1979), and Shakti (1982) where Bachchan played the son of another Bollywood legend, Dilip Kumar.

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In most of the Salim-Javed films, Bachchan continued playing the prototypical angry young man who usually went by the first name Vijay. This character can be seen as a representation of the frustrated Indian youth of the 1970s, a time when the country was reeling under the effects of violent political uprisings in some states and the Emergency imposed by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

In 1982, Bachchan suffered a major injury while filming an action scene for Coolie. In the scene between him and Puneet Issar, Bachchan’s abdomen struck the edge of a table, resulting in a splenic rupture. The superstar had to spend many months in medical care due to this injury.

From the late 1980s, Bachchan’s luck at the box office dimmed after a series of flops and he ended up taking a sabbatical from movies during 1992-1996. The actor found success in the late-1990s with movies like Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan (1998), Major Saab (1998), and Sooryavansham (19999). 

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Bachchan started the new century with a huge hit in the Aditya Chopra directorial Mohabbatein (2000), where he starred alongside Shah Rukh Khan. The superstar continued his good run by taking up character roles and experimenting with out-of-the-box movies like Sarkar (2006), Cheeni Kum (2007), and The Last Lear (2007).

The 2010s saw Bachchan taking up narration duties for a number of films like Ra.One (2011), Krrish 3 (2013), and Begum Jaan (2017). His most notable onscreen performance during this decade was in Shoojit Sircar’s 2015 comedy, Piku, where his portrayal of Bhashkor Banerji saw Bachchan win the National Film Award for Best Actor. The veteran actor will be seen in the fantasy epic adventure film, Brahmastra, in 2022, in which he will star alongside Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

Besides films, Amitabh Bachchan has hosted the Indian version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, Kaun Banega Crorepati, for 13 seasons (season 4 was hosted by Shah Rukh Khan). He was also the host of the reality series, Bigg Boss Season 3.

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Bachchan has received a number of accolades throughout his career for his performances, including four National Film Awards, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the Padma Vibhushan, and France’s highest civilian honour, 

Knight of the Legion of honour. His influence on Indian, and particularly Hindi cinema has been best summed up by the French auteur Francis Truffaut, who called Bachchan a “one-man industry.”