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|Title Review |
Circa 1970-71, an actor in his late 20s was seen in the gladiator arena of Hindi cinema in four films of variable quality and themes. Without knowing it, he was already surmounting the odds, besides imprinting a legible signature through his performances. There was a little or no doubt that a star was in the making. It was none other than Amitabh Bachchan.
Popularly called the Big B, Amitabh Bachchan jump-started his career in 1970 with the black-and-white Saat Hindustani and moved slowly, but surely, towards mass audience approval. His films, now onwards, became more ambitious in scope and the film-budget struck gold at the mid-seventies box office. His performances became more confident and authoritative. And the characters, he essayed and interpreted, connected on a more voluminous scale with the spectators, who saw in him someone like themselves.
A gift from his wife Jaya Bachchan on his 60th birthday on 11 October 2002, To Be or Not To Be looks at the life and craft -- which are inevitably inseparable -- of Amitabh Bachchan, who has been at the forefront of Indian cinema for well over three decades and a roster of nearly 100 films. Several epithets have been bestowed upon him. The media and the mass audience anointed him with the title of a Superstar, while the BBC poll established him as the Star of the Millennium, the public vote placing him ahead of every other charismatic and thespian icon of the globe: past and present. This legend to outlast all legends cleaves the history of post-independence Hindi cinema into pre-and-post Bachchan halves, remarks Maithli Rao in Encyclopaedia Britannica, Rebels Without a Cause, Volume on Hindi Cinema.
It is a comprehensive, lavishly illustrated study of the actor''s trajectory, projecting Bachchan in diverse moods and candid moments. Subtextually, the book reflects the course that Indian film culture has taken from the 1970s right to this day. Also included here are personalized accounts written by the actor''s immediate family.
Khalid Mohamed is one of India''s leading film critic.
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To be or not to be Amitabh Bachchan