During the shooting of the Indian movie Khuda Gawah (1992) in the country, Afghanistan’s then-President Najibullah Ahmadzai provided actor Amitabh Bachchan with half of his country’s Air Force for his protection. The movie reportedly became one of the most watched Indian films in Afghanistan. The actor celebrated his 75th birthday on Wednesday.
As the angry young man of ­Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan, turns 72 today, here are 72 facts you may not know about the man who has been ruling the ­industry since forever.
- Amitabh Bachchan wanted to be an engineer and was also keen to join the Indian Air Force while growing up.
- Amitabh is ­ambidextrous, which means he can write with both hands equally well.
- His father Harivansh Rai Bachchan wanted to name him Inquilab, ­meaning ‘revolution’, but named him ‘Amitabh’, meaning — “the light that will never die” at the suggestion of fellow poet Sumitranandan Pant.4. The photographs he had initially sent to producers was clicked by his elder brother Ajitabh, who ­encouraged Big B to enter Bollywood.5. During the shooting of the movie Khuda Gawah (1992), the then President of Afghanistan provided Amitabh with half of his country’s air force for protection. The movie was one of the most watched Indian films in Afghanistan.
6. Amitabh had a near fatal accident while shooting Coolie (1983).
7. At the time when he was ­hospitalised after the Coolie accident, the Indian Press Trust issued daily ­bulletins on his health.
8. Amitabh Bachchan’s favourite onscreen name is Vijay. He has played a character called Vijay more than 20 times. Interestingly, the name of his first boss was Vijay.
9. His boss Vijay once told Amitabh to leave early from work, as Big B had told him he had a stage play that day. However, when Vijay, along with his wife, went to see the play, he was ­disappointed to find Amitabh just ­managing the curtains.
10. Amitabh is passionate about ­collecting watches and pens. Mont Blanc gifts him a special pen every year on his birthday.
11. Amitabh Bachchan’s real surname is Shrivastava and ‘Bachchan’ was actually the pen name chosen by his poet father. Amitabh liked this name and used it as his surname, too.
12. For a man who is worth ­millions today, Amitabh’s first salary was a measly Rs. 500, out of which Rs. 300 went as rent.
13. Amitabh used to share his room with eight other people, when he worked in Kolkata.
14. Amitabh Bachchan wrote his first poem when he was ­hospitalized in 1982. The poem got published in the magazine Dharamyug because its editor Dr Dharamvir Bharati, who was also a great writer, was a family friend of the Bachchans.
15. After the success of Zanjeer in 1973, he and Jaya (Bachchan, his wife) planned a ­holiday abroad. Amitabh’s father, when told about the plan, said they should get first married and go. As a result, they promptly got married.
16. In Mumbai, Bachchan ­frequented a fuel station in his struggling phase. On the day Anand was released (1971), he had filled up his car in the morning. The same ­evening when he returned for more petrol, everyone recognised him there!
17. He reportedly owns 11 cars, which include one Lexus, two BMWs and three Mercedes. His favourite is the Lexus which is a bulletproof one. The car has radial tyres that are normally used for Formula 1 races. The cost of each tyre is Rs 2.5 lakh.
18. Amitabh’s rich ­baritone was the very thing that made All India Radio reject his job application. He failed in both the Hindi and English test there.
19. The popular moniker Big B was invented somewhere in the late 90s after his comeback movie —Mrityudaata.
20. Amitabh, who is known for his spiritual inclination, takes time out from his busy schedule every year and walks barefeet from his Juhu home to the Siddhivinayak temple to take Lord Ganesha’s blessings.
21. Amitabh finds it embarrassing when someone calls him a ­superstar or showers him with huge compliments. He prefers being called an actor and is modest at that. He also hates when someone addresses the Hindi film industry as Bollywood.
22. In 1995, three years into ­his hiatus from acting, Big B founded Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited, which suffered losses, forcing him to take up acting again in order to cope with massive business debts.
23. During the Hindi ­production of Othello, translated by Amitabh’s father, poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Amitabh played the ­character of Cassio in the play, his mother Teji Bachchan played Desdemona’s maid.
24. He did a double major in Science and Arts from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University. And he regretted not being able to get into St Stephen’s College. Later, he started doing plays at Miranda House and got whistled at by the girl students there.
25. Reportedly, his first date was when he was in college. And he was reported to his mother by someone who saw him on the date.
26. He doesn’t drink tea or coffee and even avoids smoking and ­alcoholic drinks. However, he would drink heavily and party when he shifted to Kolkata after graduation.
27. Amitabh doesn’t know cooking. He tried to make an omelette when he was living in New York, but it apparently turned out to be ­disastrous.
28. Amitabh Bachchan doesn’t get angry. He only acts angry if his role demands.
29. Two things that he simply ­cannot do without are his laptop and mobile. He loves to stay connected.
30. He is fond of blogging. In fact, before retiring to bed, he writes a blog almost daily. And he has over four lakh followers on Twitter.
31. He was to do films that never took off — Lambuji Thinguji and Jaahil respectively — with Amjad Khan and Kader Khan as directors.
32. Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek have a liking for street food. During the monsoon, he and his son used to go out to relish bhutta on the streets. He also likes egg bhurji and parantha. His ­favourite dish is bhindi.
33. He is fond of learning various languages, especially Indian. He knows a little bit of Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and Marathi. He believes that it is never too late to learn, and would also like to learn German, French, Russian and Italian.
34. Late comedian Mehmood was also a mentor to Bachchan in his days of struggle and offered him to stay in his own home.
35. Big B gave 12 ­consecutive flops before his first big hit Zanjeer which could have been his last film, if Zanjeer had flopped.
36. Late actor Sunil Dutt signed him for a mute role in Reshma Aur Shera (1972) because of a letter of introduction from the then PM Indira Gandhi to Nargis, Sunil Dutt’s wife.
37. Amitabh is probably the only actor who has played the role of a son to his real son in the film Paa (2009), in which Abhishek plays father to Amitabh.
38. The face of the Indian comic book character Supremo is based on him.
39. He was one of the judges for the 1995 Miss World beauty pageant.
40. Amitabh has played more double roles than any other actor. In the film Mahaan (1983), he even had a ­triple role.
41. Amitabh Bachchan’s daughter, Shweta, is married to Nikhil Nanda, whose mother is the late Raj Kapoor’s daughter.
42. Amitabh is known to suffer from asthma. He also has a rare muscular disorder known as myasthenia gravis.
43. It was in Kolkata that he bought a second-hand Fiat as his first car.
44. During the making of the movie Sholay (1975), his wife Jaya was pregnant with their first child, Shweta. By the time the film was premiered, she was pregnant with their second child, Abhishek Bachchan.
45. During his struggling days, Amitabh Bachchan had spent a few nights on a bench at Marine Drive, Mumbai. He loves to point out to the bench every time he drives past it.
46. Director Satyajit Ray used Bachchan’s voice in his 1977 film Shatranj Ke Khiladi.
47. Bachchan was paid Rs. 1,000 for his debut film where he struck a lifelong friendship with actor-­filmmaker Tinnu Anand.
48. His first dog was a Silky Sydney who was extremely attached to him, and which, he lost unfortunately.
49. Amitabh first met Jaya at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune and later on the sets of Guddi (1971).
50. He holds the record for the most number of best actor ­nominations for popular film awards.
51. Bachchan was the first choice for Shashi Kapoor’s role in Utsav (1984) and Jackie Shroff’s in the film King Uncle.
52. The song, Rang Barse, from Silsila (1981) and some lyrics from Alaap (1977) were penned by his father, Harvanshrai Bachchan. So is the poetry in Agneepath.
53. He is the only actor to star in a remake of his own film as hero as well as villain. The film being Sholay, and the remake being Aag (2007).
54. Jaya is often heard saying, “Amitji is a loner!”
55. Hollywood actor Bruce Willis once commented, at the opening of Planet Hollywood, that Amitabh Bachchan was ‘bigger than any Hollywood star’.
56. When he was out of work at the turn of the millennium, he called and asked late filmmaker Yash Chopra for a project. Mohabbatein (2000) ­happened.
57. Ask Jaya what attracted her to Amitabh, and she coyly says, “His eyes. But it’s impossible to explain..so many personal things.”
58. On October 31, 2006, he shocked the unit of the film Shootout at Lokhandwala (2007) by recording 23 scenes in 5 hours!
59. Bachchan loves comfort. The flooring at his home is Italian marble, the bath fittings are from France and Germany.
60. It is said both his bungalows, Pratiksha and Jalsa, put together, would be worth Rs. 160 crore!
61. Interestingly, Jalsa was gifted to the actor by director Ramesh Sippy in lieu of payment for his performance in the 1982 film, Satte pe Satte. It is reported that due to tax reasons, the ownership of Jalsa was in the name of Amitabh’s brother Ajitabh’s wife, Ramola Bachchan.
62. Amitabh Bachchan is very fond of suits. His favourite is Gabbana. They have been designing his suits for the past 30 years. The fabric is ­especially imported from Italy, the thread from France and buttons from England.
63. When they were young, Big B’s kids — Shweta and Abhishek — asked him to not come to school because it caused too much commotion because of his star status.
64. In London, he always prefers to stay at St James Court, which is five minutes from Buckingham Palace.
65. According to ad pundits, a company once paid him Rs. 10 crore for 10 days. That works out to Rs. 7,000 per ­minute!
66. Amitabh and Rekha’s (above) much-talked about ‘love story’ has always remained a mystery, as both the actors never accepted their relationship in public. Reportedly, their love story began on the sets of the film Do Anjaane (1976). Post the shoot of their movie Silsila, which was said to be based on the Amitabh-Rekha-Jaya relationship, Rekha and Amitabh’s alleged relationship began to fade.
67. Saat Hindustani (1969) is his only black-and-white film.
68. When actor Puneet Issar punched him on the sets of Coolie, the actor first bowed to the entire crew for a perfect shot before crumpling in pain outside ­minutes later. Apparently, Puneet didn’t get any work for six years after that.
69. He dislikes the word Beti B, coined for his granddaughter Aaradhya. He prefers to call her ­bitiya, while Jaya calls Aaradhya Strawberry.
70. On July 27, 2012, Amitabh Bachchan was given the due honour to carry the Olympic torch during the last leg of its relay in London’s Southwark.
71. On the sets of his TV Show Yudh, Amitabh Bachchan always borrowed filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s iPad for a scene. So if anyone wonders what the ­serious expression on Big B’s face is while he is on his iPad during the series, he is actually playing a game called Flow. In fact, he got the whole crew addicted to the game too.
72. Big B married Jaya Bhaduri (below) in 1973 after a long courtship. Eyewitnesses and supporters of their romance included popular yesteryear actor Nadira and common mentor Hrishikesh Mukherjee