Born on October 11, 1942, Amitabh Bachchan was first named Inquilab. His mother, Teji Bachchan, was an active participant in the Satyagraha movement and, despite her pregnancy, she remained so commited to the cause that many friends of the Bachchans joked that the baby would be called Inquilab. And he was, till his father’s friend, the poet and novelist Sumitra Nandan Pant, named him Amitabh which means unlimited.
Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee shot several scenes with Amitabh Bachchan for Guddi but then let him off saying he was not suitable and took on another lead actor opposite Jaya Bachchan. Amitabh Bachchan and Hrishikesh Mukherjee later went on to deliver several hits such as Mili, Chupke Chupke and Abhimaan.
Amitabh and Jaya got married a month before Abhimaan released. During the filming of Zanjeer, the cast and crew had decided to go abroad if the movie was a hit. As it was the first trip together for Amitabh and Jaya, he sought his father poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s permission. His father asked if Jaya was going too. When Amitabh replied in the affirmative, he was told to marry her before they left the country.
Big B gave 12 flops before his first big hit, Zanjeer. Zanjeer made him a star and marked the beginning of the Angry Young Man, a persona Amitabh Bachchan was to assume on film many times over.
Big B worked as a radio announcer and freight company executive in Kolkata before arriving in Mumbai to try his luck in films.
Comedian Mehmood was a close friend. Amitabh lived in his house and also starred in his film Bombay To Goa as he struggled to find a foothold in the industry in the early ’70s.
The young Amitabh Bachchan got his first break in Bollywood with the help of one very famous person. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, mother of his good friend Rajiv, wrote him a letter of introduction and that’s how he landed his first role in K A Abbas’s Saat Hindustani, which fetched him a National Award.
Big B was voted the Greatest Star of the Millenium in a BBC poll in 1999, beating such greats as Marlon Brando and Charlie Chaplin. Big B said at the time that he himself would have voted for Marlon Brando.
When 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.
Amitabh Bachchan’s favourite onscreen name is Vijay. He has played a character called Vijay 19 times.