Wednesday, November 08, 2006

AMITABH BACHCHAN - AN OVER-RATED ICON?

Today’s View & Counter View columns in TOI dicuss the issue of Delhi University conferring honorary doctorate degree on Amitabh Bachan. I have never been a Bachan fan, and so read through the piece hoping to be enlightened on the qualities of the actor that I have failed to recognize and therefore appreciate. Times View says that the university’s decision was a strategy to bolster its sagging popularity ratings among the students & the general public. Well, well! not a flattering statement about a premier university! But we have seen the Bachan magic working. Remember, when the cadbury’s sales plummeted following an adulteration scandal, Bachan was signed up by the company to be its new brand ambassador ?– and Cadbury’s bounced back!! So cant blame the university for hitting upon this bright idea – Only, a university is meant to produce scholars, not chocolate heroes!

The Counter View justified the practice of universities awarding honorary doctorates on luminaries, and in this context, had only this to say about Bachan. "A filmfare award for AmitabhBbachan is an entirely different form of tribute than a doctorate. The former honours his talent as a performer and his contribution to the film industry; the latter recognizes him as one who has added to learning, culture, society and civilization as awhole” !!!!!!(the exclamations, mine).

Will someone explain how Bachan has contributed to learning, culture, society and civilization? The article didn’t help much. It stopped talking about Bachan after this tall claim and went on to talk about the contributions of maestros of traditional music, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan etc. But not another word by way of explanation about how Bachan altered the course of civilization.

Talking about his talent as a performer, I must admit I am in no way competent to talk about Bachan as an actor. I don’t think I have sat through more than five films in which he has acted. Have seen a lot more in snatches. I liked him in “Anand “. I remember thinking, here is a very promising new face. Over decades, the new face became familiar, then too familiar, then oppresivley omnipresent – but the promise remained unfulfilled. With the onset of age, the stereotyped angry young man became an angry old man.

The trouble with him as an actor, I think, is Amitabh Bachan is Amitabh Bachan whatever role he plays. He is trapped in his own personality and his image. His negative capability is zero. The public, the film makers and agents of power that decide on awards have been hoodwinked by his popularity; but popularity, we know, is no proof of talent. MGR was more popular than Bachan - he could sway the electorate, something which Bachan could not do. But MGR was no great actor.

Guess Bachan owes his success to media. Given his limited histrionic talent, he would have faded gracefully into oblivion, had not the media prevented it.

This is my take on the Big B as a thespian. I could be wrong. It is possible that my inability to relate to Hindi films on account of the language barrier could be the reason for my inability to become a hard core Bachan fan.

But I am curious about Amitabh Bachan as a cultural factor. This is something worth making a study on. What is his appeal to the masses? The angry young man image going down with the audience is easy to understand. But after that? An inquiry into this might, perhaps, throw up some interesting truths about a post colonial, developing nation and a pluralistic society.

18 comments:

  1. Woah..."Guess Bachan owes his success to media. Given his limited histrionic talent, he would have faded gracefully into oblivion, had not the media prevented it."

    Umm....what media are you talking about....the same media who trashed deewar, the same media that insulted AB? This man has made it on his talent and nothing else. Perhaps you should take time and watch movies like deewar, mili, anand, sholay, shakti, namak halal, silsila, black...and many more to know what an awesomely talented man he is and make sure it has subtitles!

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  2. Just go through the report on the polio campaign ( presented by Mr Bachchan) . It will make you realise what is his impact.

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  3. errr.., it is bachchan not bachan.

    everybody has the right to their opinion.

    I just hope I am half as energetic as amitabh is at the age of 64.

    peace...

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  4. i totally agree with the blogger.
    ABs popularity or impact is not the issue.But a doctorate,isnt it a little too much?but then,we dish out even Bharat Ratnas quite liberally these days!
    And a cultural ikon? God save this great culture that is Bharat!!if bachchan and his ilk were the ikons of this graet culture then i would rather redefine ikon!

    Those who havent had the opportunity to see talents outside bollywood do not really realise that they live in the proverbial pond .but,ignorance as they say,is always a bliss!!

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  5. what kind of reduculous views mr. kochuthresiamma p .j has about respected Amitabh Bachchan. In the first line you have written that you are not a fan of mr. amitabh. That itself says the the story. I know that it is not necessary that everybody loves one person. But a person who has knowledge, sense and IQ, should admire a phenomenon type of person. It is only due to mr. Ambitabh that Indian Film Industry has become global. Mr. Amibtabh is the most popular face in out side India in countries like England, Africa, Egypt, Afganistan and so on...... I am sure that Mr. by kochuthresiamma p .j does not know anything about acting otherwise he would not have commented like this. a person who knows even little bit about movies can easily say that In almost very film be a hit or a flop Mr. Amitabh's acting was brilliant. I think Mr. by kochuthresiamma p .j is found of of bloody leaders of the country who have nothing to do with country. they just misuse public for their benefit. that is why he is saying that what is the contribution of Amitabh towards culture? what more he can do towards Indian Culture, I cant imagine. A good human being and brannd ambassador of many cheratable thing. I have a pity towards the views of by kochuthresiamma p .j .............

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  6. kochuthresiamma, u r an ignoramus!! It seems u've spent the last 30 years or so on Pluto, coz if u were on this planet, you'd not have been talking this bullshit.

    AB is not only the biggest star India has ever know (MGR who?) but also the BEST actor ever - and I am not just talking about India. Still not convinced - watch Trishul, Deewar, Agnipath, Main Azad Hoon, Black etc etc. Watch these movies and then compare him with the likes of SRK, Salman, Govinda, Rajnikanth or even Kamal hassan.

    You will realise that AB is the only one who has got the combination of acting, flair and depth to the character.

    And abt DU honouring him - well FYI Universities around the world don't just honour academicians but people from different walks of life. And for an Indian, the movies are extremely important part of one's life.

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  7. kochuthresiamma, u r an ignoramus!! It seems u've spent the last 30 years or so on Pluto, coz if u were on this planet, you'd not have been talking this bullshit.

    AB is not only the biggest star India has ever know (MGR who?) but also the BEST actor ever - and I am not just talking about India. Still not convinced - watch Trishul, Deewar, Agnipath, Main Azad Hoon, Black etc etc. Watch these movies and then compare him with the likes of SRK, Salman, Govinda, Rajnikanth or even Kamal hassan.

    You will realise that AB is the only one who has got the combination of acting, flair and depth to the character.

    And abt DU honouring him - well FYI Universities around the world don't just honour academicians but people from different walks of life. And for an Indian, the movies are extremely important part of one's life.

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  8. good article.
    Amitabh Bacchan has he created a hospital for the poor.I feel there are more real unsung heroes than him.
    He is just an actor doing his work
    and people mistake his 'acting' for the generosity.

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  9. good article.
    Amitabh Bacchan has he created a hospital for the poor.I feel there are more real unsung heroes than him.
    He is just an actor doing his work
    and people mistake his 'acting' for the generosity.

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  10. The media has great power today, it can create surreal worlds. In such a world I'm thankful for a Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, he is real, honest and hardworking, has failed and risen, shown integrity, has the god-given talent of acting which touches people from all walks of life enough to make them forget their worries for a moment. All these are enough to make me respect someone. Yes, there are many out there more talented than him. But then I would make a better president of the US than Mr George Bush. At least Mr Bachchan deserves it.

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  11. Totally true. Amitabh Bachchan is an over-rated icon. For that matter, even Shahrukh Khan is over-rated. But frankly, this is all media games.

    -kajan

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  12. Well.. He is one of the most famous Indians around and its only right that this happen.

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  13. While Mr. Bachchan is a superstar with a great screen presence his acting could be described as ordinary - at best. Mr. Bachchan is supposedly a thorough professional, and his good work ethic and endurance are to be respected. Yes, his angry young man brought forth a new genre in Bollywood, and it was refreshing. He then was guilty of repeating that role in almost every movie. As far as his acting goes, he screams and shouts, is often very stiff, and has a very limited range (angry man or comedian or patriarch). Yes he is superior to most Bollywood stars; but then there are very few good Bollywood actors (Om Puri, Kamalhassan to name a few). Perhaps even as his most memorable role in Sholay, he was eclipsed by Amjad Khan and Sanjeev Kumar. Most importantly Bachchan has not been creative. Clint Eastwood was an ordinary actor too, but then evolved into a magnificent director. Bachchan has not ventured into new areas. But as a superhero, I guess he has brought happiness to many fans.

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  14. hello anonymous who made these comments "Watch these movies and then compare him with the likes of SRK, Salman, Govinda, Rajnikanth or even Kamal hassan." "but also the BEST actor ever - and I am not just talking about India. Still not convinced - watch Trishul, Deewar, Agnipath, Main Azad Hoon, Black etc etc" - hello, come out of your nutshell, and watch Kamal Hassan's movies and then you will know his depth and range - Bachchan is a big star, but if we start going by performance-versus- performance, Bachchan pales when compared to Kamal Hassan - plus, Kamal is a complete thorough professional - there is nothing about cinema he does not know - if I were to interview both Bachchan and Kamal about cinema (which is their profession) for 2 hrs, take it from me, there will be lots more to learn from Kamal than Bachchan! Bachchan never had a competitor, plus, he never ventured out into doing creative cinema - in most of his movies, I see only Bachchan the star, not the character he plays - beyond a certain stage in his career, Bachchan truely went into a comfort zone and never committed himself to doing anything truely artistic - plus, it is mindboggling that someone could indulge in politics, advts (of all things in the world, why does someone like him have to star in advts ? simple reason, the time he could have spent working on his roles, he was busy promoting himself and building a network of political connections - that says a lot about his professionalism)- dont even begin comparing Bachchan with Kamal Hassan - Bachchan even in his dreams, cannot conjure up a screenplay like that of Pushpak, which was penned by Kamal himself! nor can he bring in the kind of cerebral intensity, and intelligence that Kamal has brought in into so many of his roles! it is ONLY because, Kamal has restricted himself to regional cinema, he has not been recognised as much as he should have been - I can go on - the point here is not whether Bachan deserved a degree from DU or not, it is solely the decision of the DU authorities, they are free to give it to anyone they chose! but if you were to begin comparing Bachchan with someone like Kamal Hassan, as a professional, Kamal has achieved leagues ahead of Bachchan, by any yardstick - btw, even Bachchan knows this, and for precisely that reason, several scenes from 'Giraftaar' featuring Kamal were heavily chopped - and I have not even begun to talk about others like Mammooty or Mohan Lal- and for all the hype, it was after the advent of Bachchan, Hindi cinema began focussing on star power, than story power! and big B did have a hand in it - his rise to stardom is parallel to the overall quality of good cinema in Bollywood, because he was hardly setting an example by doing anything creative!

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  15. Obviously it matters when the comparision comes between Kamal Hassan and Amitab Bachan. Any anonymous comments which compares Bachan with the legend, shows their zero knowledge on Kamal's movies. As an anonymous said, come out of the Bollywood nutshell and watch some starring performances and master pieces of Kamal Hassan.

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  16. Hi

    Amitabh has done lots for charity but havent lots of other poeple, non celebrities like me, I dont think he is overrated as he is a good actor but he just needs to quit movies and let other talent come in, he dwarfs everyone elses talents and get all thew accolades just for being himself.
    He is IIFA President and therefore always gets a special mention, Aishwarya will get more and more movies because of her in laws instead of talent, Sushmita is a much better performer with more grace and charm, Abhishek gets voted sexiest man when clearly what is sexy or good looking about him, honestly, this is the magic of the Big B who can make the untalented bahu into an even more successful actor and his uly son a top hero, Akshay Kumar is the best after Big B and needs to be recognised but wont until he is in the way for no real reason now

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  17. kamal Hasan is probably the greatest actor.He is well known for his variety in films.Amitabh bachan is a good actor but he is nothing compared with The great Kamal Hasan.Akshay Kumar is the worst actor in Indian film industry.His acting sucks .Even sharukh or Hrithik are not even close to Kamal Hasan.He deserve a wax statue .If any one has doubt watch Sagara Sangamam,Swathi Muthyam,Maro charitra and etc.Bolly wood really sucks South indian film industry is best.It is home for great actors like Kamal hasan ,Chiranjeevi,NTR, and many more.

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