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After Kalki Mr Bachchan’s Doesn’t Feel 82, He Feels  28




I have never seen Bachchan Saab so happy, and I  do mean  never in my 25-year association with this incredible  artiste.Nag Ashwin’s Kalki has recalled  Mr B’s 51-year  young superstardom from Zanjeer. But  there is a difference.

Amitji was the  last  choice  for Zanjeer, after Dev Anand, Raj Kumar  and Dharmendra  said no to the offers.

For Kalki , Bachchan Saab was  the first and last choice.

The  director Nag Ashwin said  to me, “There was no way I was going to compromise  on Amitabh Sir’s casting. It had to be him, or no one else. I don’t know what I’d have done if he said no. Luckily for me he  was as excited about his role as I  was.”

The  kind of  adulation that  Amitabh Bachchan  is receiving for his role as   the mighty Ashwathama in Kalki 29898 AD  makes  one wonder if there are  any semi-colons,  let alone fullstops in this  actor’s life.

At 82, he shows the showworld that he is at the top of the game,  with no competition  anywhere in sight.

Could there  be  another  Amitabh  Bachchan ever?  He is the tree of life with other actors of  successive generations serving as branches and twigs.

 And  to think that lately, it seemed  like the end  of the road for him, what with a slew of unworthy  projects  being unleashed with imbecilic  impropriety. And  Mr B   never realized  how those fanboy filmmakers  were  bringing him down by showcasing him in celluloid fanmails.

 It started early in an obnoxious film entitled Bbuddah…Hoga Terra Baap. Directed  by Puri Jagannath(to whom  goes the credit  for  nearly destroying Vijay Devarakonda’s career  in Liger),  the   film  read like a running commentary on the Bachchan legend. Blessed are the generations that get to see India’s most iconic and enduring screen-hero play a variation on all his most cherished roles. The iconic super-hero manoeuvred through his tailor-made role with a devastating dexterity, creating a celluloid combustion that leaves a trail of smoking guns, screaming tyres and satiated expectations that audiences felt and experienced in the heydays of the Bachchan Raj.

The reign never ended . How can  it when there were so many fanboy  directors fawning  over the Bachchan stardom? Nag Ashwin too is  a fan. But he  doesn’t let his awe come in the  way  of  controlling the  Bachchan’s  iconic personality , harnessing it  into  a character which is at once intimidating and awe inspiring.

That priceless incomparable voice which  had lately begun to  sound like  a parody of  the original baritone ,  is subdued and sublimated to  echo eternity.

As far as I can see Bachchan Saab’s career could be divided  into three phases. The  first phase began with Zanjeer. The second phase as a senior version of Vijay in  Zanjeer  started with  Aditya  Chopra’s  Mohabbatein.

Now comes the  third phase : Kalki  casts  the  Bachchan as  the ageless sage , a  figure far removed  from the hubbub of  human activity. He is  timeless !

I remember  how concerned Mr Bachchan was  about transitioning into his second phase with Mohabbatein. “I was in that awkward  phase in my career where  I was too  old  to play the Angry Young Man and  too young to play the hero’s father. I would remain  eternally grateful  to  Mr Yash Chopra  for showing me  the  way.”

Now, Mr B is  enjoying  Phase 3 of his career thoroughly. He  insists  that everyone  he knows watch  Kalki and won’t  rest easy until  they do. There is a  new sprint in Bachchan  Saab’s gait which reminds me  of Lataji’s song Aaj kal paon zameen par nahin padte  mere.

 During one of  my conversations with Mrs Jaya Bachchan recently  I had suggested  that Mr B take it easy.

“Are you mad?!” she had screamed. “He can’t be not working.  It is the only thing that validates his life. Don’t even suggest it to him.”

I am  glad I  didn’t .

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