Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday and the festive season of Navratri fall during the month of October. Megastar Big B’s talent knows no bounds. Having starred opposite the top heroines of his time, his acting prowess, cinematic work and versatility serves as an inspiration for budding actors in the Indian film industry. While most of his films have been seen often enough to be considered cultural artifacts, here are five that you missed but shouldn’t have.
- Jurmana (1979):
In many of his films, AB played characters with distinct shades of grey. In fact, one of his earliest films, Parwana, cast him as an assassin. In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Abhimaan, he played a singer jealous of his wife’s talent. In this film, which sadly flopped, AB was a brash rich arrogant Cassanova who ruins the life of a simple innocent trusting girl (Raakhee Gulzar) and spends a major part of his time in repentance and atonement. A marvellous morality tale, albeit a bit loosely plotted, it contains one of R D Burman’s career’s best songs Saawan ke jhoole pade.
- Benaam (1974):
Directed by the underrated Narendra Bedi, who also helmed AB’s super slick thriller Majboor, Benaam is about a couple (AB & Moushumi)’s frantic search for their kidnapped son. The film is taut and though the songs are an unnecessary imposition (Narendra Chanchal screaming Main benaam ho gaya was stating the obvious) it works well as a thriller.
- Bandhe Haath (1973):
During the year when AB exploded on-screen with the Zanjeer his other release directed by O P Ralhan featured AB in a double role of poet and a petty thief. What I love about this film is that it paired AB with the gorgeous Mumtaz for the first and last time. They certainly shared a crackling chemistry far better the frigid pairing with Hema Malini, that was never explored any further. Sad.
- Imaan Dharam (1977):
This was designed as a super-blockbuster bringing together a dream cast, and written by the indomitable Salim Javed. But Imaan Dharam fizzled out like a soggy firecracker causing huge losses to all. Do re-visit the film for its feisty, furiously innovative plot about two professional eye-witnesses who give fake evidence in the court. Bachchan’s chemistry with Shashi Kapoor was legendary. Interestingly, Rekha is paired with Shashi Kapoor while AB’s love interest is Helen (courtesy Salim Khan).
- Alaap (1977):
I don’t know why this Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic with masterly melodies composed by the great Jaidev, bombed. Some said it was too depressing as it came during the dreaded Emergency. I find the film timeless and seamless in its social significance. Bachchan plays the son of a family of lawyers who would rather spend time learning music from a retired courtesan than screaming in the courtroom. The father-son confrontations between the great Om Prakash and AB are as powerful as Prthiviraj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar’s face-offs in Mughal-e-Azam. Need I say anything more?