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Amitabh Bachchan Completes 50 Years in Cinema: Fifty Lesser Known Facts About the Star

Amitabh Bachchan Completes 50 Years in Cinema: Fifty Lesser Known Facts About the Star

As Amitabh Bachchan's long, illustrious career hits a half century today, we take a look back at 50 lesser known facts about the most-loved superstar.

Fifty years ago, February 15 marked the beginning of the cinematic journey of one of the greatest talents in the Indian film industry. It was on this day in 1969 that Amitabh Bachchan signed his debut film, Saat Hindustani. Soon after, he went on to act in films like Parwana, Anand, Guddi, Bombay To Goa, etc. Though he's been part of some memorable films in the initial years of his career, success did not come easy for him. He has seen many ups and downs in his career - from a near fatal accident, to reaching dizzying heights of success, hitting rock bottom, and then rising up again to be the megastar the country knows and loves today.

As Bachchan's long, illustrious career hits a half century today, we take a look back at 50 lesser known facts about the most-loved superstar.

-Saat Hindustani is the only black-and-white film Bachchan worked in.

-Among his many talents, being ambidextrous is one. He is equally good at writing with both hands.

-Bachchan has played Vijay more than 20 times. In fact, it is his favourite onscreen name.

-Talking about names, his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan wanted to name him Inquilab, but named him ‘Amitabh’, meaning “the light that will never die” at the suggestion of fellow poet Sumitranandan Pant.

-His real surname is Shrivastava. ‘Bachchan’ was actually the pen name chosen by his poet father.

-During the shooting of Khuda Gawah (1992), the then President of Afghanistan had provided Bachchan with half of his country’s air force for protection. The movie was one of the most watched Indian films in Afghanistan.

-He is passionate about collecting watches and pens. Mont Blanc gifts him a special pen every year on his birthday.

-Bachchan might own multiple bungalows in Mumbai now, but he used to share his room with eight other people while working in Kolkata, His first salary was just Rs. 500, out of which Rs. 300 went as rent.

-His bungalow Jalsa was gifted by director Ramesh Sippy in lieu of payment for his performance in Satte Pe Satta. 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.

-His famous baritone was the very reason why All India Radio rejected his job application! Ironically, being the narrator of Bhuvan Shome was one of his first film assignments. He continues to lend his voice to multiple films, including the very recent Manikarnika.

-Late comedian Mehmood was also a mentor to Bachchan in his days of struggle and offered him to stay in his own home.

-Bachchan wrote his first poem when he was hospitalized in 1982. The poem got published in the magazine Dharamyug by editor Dr Dharamvir Bharati, a family friend.

-He had 12 consecutive flops before his first big hit Zanjeer.

-Bachchan and Jaya got married in a hurry in 1973, on the insistence of his father, so that they could take a trip together abroad to celebrate the success of Zanjeer.

-He first met Jaya at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune and later on the sets of Guddi (1971).

-Sunil Dutt had 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, Dutt’s wife.

-The popular moniker Big B was invented somewhere in the late '90s after his comeback movie Mrityudaata.

-Big B founded Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited in 1995, which suffered major losses, forcing him to take up acting again in order to cope with massive debts.

-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.

-He doesn’t drink tea or coffee and even avoids cigarettes and alcohol.

-Cooking is not one of his talents. He tried to make an omelette when he was living in New York, but it apparently turned out to be a disaster.

-He loves to stay connected and cannot do without his laptop and mobile.

-He was supposed to do two films, Lambuji Thinguji and Jaahil, with Amjad Khan and Kader Khan as directors. But the films never took off.

-Bachchan and his son Abhishek have a liking for street food. During the monsoon, they used to go out to relish bhutta on the streets.

-Bachchan is probably the only actor who has played the role of a son to his real son in the film Paa.

-The face of the Indian comic book character Supremo is based on him.

-Amitabh has played more double roles than any other actor. In the film Mahaan (1983), he even had a triple role.

-During the making of Sholay (1975), Jaya was pregnant with their first child, Shweta. By the time the film premiered, she was pregnant with Abhishek.

-His daughter, Shweta, is married to Nikhil Nanda, whose mother Ritu is the late Raj Kapoor’s daughter.

-When they were young, Shweta and Abhishek asked him to not come to school because it caused too much commotion.

-The muscle of his left shoulder got cut accidentally during surgery, causing his left shoulder to droop. This happened even before he joined films.

-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.

The song Rang Barse from Silsila (1981) and some lyrics from Alaap (1977) were penned by his father. So was the poetry in Agneepath.

-He is the only actor to star as a villain in the remake of his own film where he was one of the heroes. The film being Sholay, and the remake being Aag (2007).

-When he was out of work at the turn of the millennium, he asked late filmmaker Yash Chopra for a project. That's how Mohabbatein (2000) happened.

-He once shocked the unit of the film Shootout at Lokhandwala (2007) by recording 23 scenes in 5 hours!

-Bachchan is very fond of suits. His favourite is Gabbana. They have been designing his suits for the past 30 years.

-In London, he always prefers to stay at St James Court, which is very close to the Buckingham Palace.

-According to ad pundits, a company once paid him Rs. 10 crore for 10 days. That's Rs 7,000 per minute!

-Bachchan and Rekha's alleged love story remains one of the most intriguing Bollywood stories. Their relationship reportedly started on the sets of Do Anjaane (1976).

-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.

-Actress Smita Patil had a bad dream about him a day before he met with the accident on the sets of Coolie.

-On July 27, 2012, Bachchan was given the due honour to carry the Olympic torch during the last leg of its relay in London’s Southwark.

-On the sets of his TV Show Yudh, Bachchan always borrowed filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s iPad for a scene. He put on a serious expression while actually playing a game called Flow.

-The famous song Khaike Paan Banaras Wala was shot as an afterthought after the film Don was completed.

-He came up with the idea of wearing the light suit in the hit song Saara Zamaana. Big B would constantly monitor the lights through a switch that he firmly held in his hands during the shooting of this song.

-In October 1978, Bachchan delivered four superhits in a month - Muqaddar Ka Sikander, Kasme Vaade, Don and Trishul.

-Bachchan an honorary doctorate from the Egyptian Academy of Arts.

-He met Hollywood legend Christopher Lee during his stint as a juror for the Miss World pageant, and played a few rounds of golf with him.

-Hollywood actor Bruce Willis once commented, at the opening of Planet Hollywood, that Amitabh Bachchan was ‘bigger than any Hollywood star’.

How many of these did you know?