What Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan means to India

Sunday, 18 December 2016

A colleague recently asked me if Amitabh Bachchan had influenced my life. In a flash, I replied “yes”. For anyone who growing up in India in the 70s and 80s and frankly, in the years since, there’s no way this giant of a personality hasn’t in some way impacted their lives.

Millions of people have been influenced by this man, who is almost universally idolized in India. That’s a strong statement, but history backs it up.
Because Amitabh Bachchan is an integral, intrinsic part of India’s history.
Bachchan starred in his first film in 1969. Since then, he has dominated the silver screen for nearly half a century — most of India’s 70 years as an independent nation. As the country experienced political upheaval, economic change, and sporting victories, in war and in peace time, Bachchan has been a constant — appearing in light-hearted comedies, emotional family dramas, love stories, action-packed entertainment flicks and, recently, more experimental cinema with a powerful message.
He has amassed a fanatical fan base — in fact, as the most recognized Indian both in the wider world and at home, he is hero worshipped. And that’s putting it mildly.
Dialogues from films such as the 1998 blockbuster “Shahenshah” are so well known there’s barely an Indian who cant finish memorable lines from these films — and that transcends generations.
Bachchan’s signature dance moves (think Shava Shava in the film “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham”) are copied at every Indian celebration. His songs — he’s recorded several for his movies in his unmistakeable baritone — are classics that are played on the radio every day.
In short, Bachchan’s influence is everywhere.