When one is writing about megastar Amitabh Bachchan it indeed is an existentialist dilemma what to add as a form of content, as so much information about him is available in all forms of content and the dilemma is further accentuated when Big B chips in with his own content on a rather regular basis. But as they, where there is a will to share information, the writer indeed finds ways, and this time the way has been facilitated by Sidharth Bhatia’s book on Manmohan Desai, titled, AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY which is replete with interesting bit of information about Big B and the kind of relationship that he shared with Manmohan Desai.
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How many of us would be aware even about the fact that Manmohan Desai had commented on Big B that this six feet man would go nowhere, but after AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY Manmohan Desai did not make a film without Big B.
The nonsensical verse that Big B had rendered in the prelude and interlude of the song ‘My name is Anthony Gonsalves’ indeed was a trait of his character, he used to recite this intermittently sitting alone, Manmohan Desai overheard it and he asked Big B to develop it and include it as the part of the song, and it is probably for the first and the last time that such kind of staccato firing rap was heard on the silver screen, as no other star has been able to emulate this feat thenceforth.
Sidharth Bhatia also informs in the book that the famous mirror act that Big B had done was not shot by Manmohan Desai. Manmohan Desai was simultaneously shooting four films when AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY was made, they being PARVARISH, CHACHA BHATIJA and DHARAMVEER. This shot was done by Big B in a single take involving the cameraman Peter Pereira. During those days rushes could be seen only after 21 days. When Manmohan Desai wanted to shoot this sequence, he was informed by Big B and Pereira that they had already shot the sequence. When Desai saw the rushes, he wept and announced that henceforth he would not make a film without Big B.
It was after AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY that the role of eminence that a comedian had in Hindi films was pushed to the periphery as Big B and Manmohan Desai created a new template of performance where now the hero would enact the scenes of comedy as well. It was AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY that created this template for Hindi cinema and it was followed by most of the actors who wanted to make their mark in Hindi cinema. Big B, who till then, was more of an angry young man, added another facet to his repertoire of being an actor who could enact comedy with a flourish that was not experimented with hitherto.
It was also owing to the wonderful chemistry that they developed during the making of AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY that Big B condescended to be bashed up twice in the film first by Vinod Khanna and second time by Zebisco. Perhaps, never in the history of cinema had this happened, and it is more so creditable as during those times Big B was at the top of his career, and as a matter of convention top actors were never bashed up on screen, after all they had a larger-than-life image. But it is to the credit of Big B that he has never interfered with script and this is the reason why he continues to endure the audience as also the filmmakers even to this day.