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Birthday Special: 10 Unsung Performances By Amitabh Bachchan!

Te3n

75 years is  a long time. Amitabh Bachchan has spent a good 40 of those 75 years giving performances to cherish .So consistently outstanding  is his output that we forget his earlier performances. Some of the work he did before Zanjeer and  overnight superstardom was absolutely stunning, but largely unrecognized. Here’s looking at the 10 performances that deserve  to be dug out of anonymity.

1.     Saat Hindustani(1969): In his very first film  AB  plyed Anwar, a  poet from Bihar who gets together with 6 other nationalists  to  liberate Goa from the Portuguese. The legendary intensity and the rugged rigour of emotions that won’t be polished or pushed aside, were evident in every frame where AB stood tall.K A Abbas who  directed AB  in this underrated film picked this actor to play one of the 7 protagonists because he  saw a certain fire in the Bachchan personality. Yeah yeah, we know.

2.     Bandhe Haath(1973): a thief and a poet, Amitabh Bachchan   then struggling for footspace in the speeding train of stardom was remarkably signed up by the mighty O P Ralhan for a double  role. Mumtaz the top heroine of those days sportingly agreed to  co-star with this  “lanky brooding young man who spoke every line like poetry.” She had all the songs. He had all the intensity.

3.     Ek Nazar(1972): Again a poet!  This  is  the third preZanjeer film where AB plays a  poet who falls in love with the the tawaif played by Jaya Bhaduri. This is the second time that the two of them came together. Just before this film AB and JB were seen  together in the awful Bansi Birju.There  is a certain  fire burning between them  even at this early stage . Laxmikant Pyarelal’s immortal songs like Patta patta boota bottaPehle sat baar and Hum hi Karenkoi soorat went a  long way in igniting the AB-JB chemistry.

4.     Raaste  Ka Pathar(1972):   Loosely adapted from Billy Wilder’s The Apartment ,this is an oddity of a  film. Uneven  yet striking for the tense chemistry between AB and Shatrughan Sinha. SS plays AB’s boss, a  married man  in an affair with hapless working girl (Neeta Khayani) whom AB secretly  loves. Later the same  story became Yes Boss.Small world.

5.     Pyar Ki Kahaani(1972): Directed by Ravikant Nagaich who made mostly espionage thrillers, this remake of  hit  Tamil film  was a resounding flop. But if we  go back to it we see how skillfully controlled AB was in playing the workingclass  hero who rescues a friend(Anil Dhawan) from suicide and falls in love with a woman with a dubious past. This is the only film where AB and  Tanuja came together as Man and Woman. They were quite a couple together.

6.     Parwana(1972): Absolutely the best performance by AB from his preZanjeer days and still among his most unsung triumphs, AB plays  a desperately in-love man who would go to any lengths , even murder, to get  the girl he loves (Yogeeta Bali). But she  prefers Navin Nishchol. There is  no telling about tastes. Go back to this film to watch the sequences where AB plots the murder of  his love’s father Om Prakash. Chilling!

7.     Sanjog(1972):  It’s not easy playing weak characters with such conviction. In  this  early film AB starred as  an indecisive man who dumps his wife MalaSinha and remarried without telling the second wife(Aruna Irani) about the first. The  film has Mala Sinha  in the author-backed role. But AB is dazzling in  the scenes where he has to stand meekly  as a lowly clerk in an office run by his abandoned wife.Gender equation deliciously tilted away from the man.

8.     Reshma Aur Shera(1969):  In a brief role as Sunil Dutt’s speech-impaired brother Chotu AB conveys so much of  the anguish about the bloody feud that governs  the lives of the two warring families who  form the central  core of the film.Solid presence even in  a semi-cameo, AB proved  it with this one.

9.     Gehri Chaal(1973):  Jeetendra  played the hero to Hema Malini in this  film while AB was cast as her  brother trying to protect the  family name  from a dark secret. This  film came  just before the release of  Zanjeer and there are clear indications that the Angry Young Man was about to emerge from the shadows .

10.  Saudagar(1972):  Fearless and unfettered  by the demands of superstardom  AB  played a gur-seller who marries a widowed  gur-maker(Nutan) for monetary  benefits. The low moral values  of AB’s character did not diminish the impact of his towering performance. Though the focus was on the timeless Nutan AB  held his own with  a powerful performance that left us hungering for more.

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