BBC Asian Network marks Big B history

Raj Baddhan

Senior Editor


The BBC Asian Network is marking legendry, Amitabh Bachchan’s history by marking a week of specials on the national station.

The Big B will speak exclusively to the Asian Network next week to mark the actor’s 40-year Bollywood career.

On Monday (7th December at 18:00), comedian and actor Sanjeev Bhaskar investigates the British-Asian community’s love affair with India’s top film star in an Asian Network Reports special. Bhaskar traces his own love affair with Bachchan – from his early memories of watching his hero on the big screen to meeting his idol for the first time. He also hears from Oscar-winning actor and friend Sir Ben Kingsley.

All week Adil Ray from 07:00 searches for the best ‘Big B’ impersonator; while Bobby Friction mixes the best of Bachchan’s back catalogue, for a huge Bollywood DJ set on Thursday (10th December) from 22:00. Jas Rao is dedicating his ‘Desi Dozen’ feature to Bachchan on Friday and the week culminates with a fascinating interview with the man himself.

On Saturday (12th December) and Sunday (13th December) from 09:00 ‘Love Bollywood�۪s’ Raj & Pablo visit Bachchan at his Mumbai home for an exclusive interview to look back over his remarkable Bollywood career.

Bachchan reveals how his phenomenal journey began when he gave up a career in engineering to become an actor. From sleeping rough to getting his first break, he talks about arriving in Mumbai in 1969 and how he got noticed by directors.

After starring in what is thought to be one of Bollywood’s most successful films of all time, ‘Sholay’, Amitabh explains how he thought he almost missed out on a bigger opportunity: “What disturbed me at that time was the fact that I couldn’t play Gabar Singh, because I felt that was the most important and really interesting character…but we never knew what we were doing was going to turn out to be so successful”.

Bachchan goes on to talk about his most memorable moments from his 40-years in Bollywood – including his infamous near death accident on the set of Coolie (1983); how he set up his ABCL business; and how he nearly went bankrupt. He says: “All the creditors were from my own industry, and I was going to remain here as an actor…I would not be able to face them if I knew that I owed them money. So…I worked hard and I paid back every single penny.”

From 1984 he took a four year sabbatical away from the industry but looking back at his decision, Bachchan questions whether he was right: “I was without a job, without money, with a huge amount of creditors. I went to Yash Chopra and said I need work. He gave me ‘Mohabbatein’, and slowly those character roles started coming my way.”

The whole Bachchan family are recognised as an acting dynasty. Bachchan’s wife is actress Jaya Bachchan; his son, Abhishek Bachchan and his daughter- in-law Aishwariya Rai Bachchan. Aishwariya went from winning the Miss World title to becoming the highest paid and most popular actress in Indian cinema. Talking about the ‘Bachchan brand�۪ he says, “I’m not able to understand the word brand, we’re all actors��_ and we are also family. We leave the home in the same car, we go to the studio and we share the same make up van and so on. But when the camera starts, we are all individuals and we play our role.”

This intimate interview is packed with famous songs from Bachchan’s movies including: ‘Zaanjer’, ‘Deewar’, ‘Kabhi Kabhi’, ‘Coolie’; ‘Sarkar’; ‘Bunty Aur Babli’; and ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’.

Husain Husaini, Head of Programmes, BBC Asian Network, says, “Amitabh�۪s forty years in Bollywood have made him loved by Asian Network listeners of all ages. So to be able to celebrate his work with our special programmes and by getting his own perspective on his unprecedented career is a special highlight for us. The week of programmes are a must-listen for film fans and will give them a real insight into a Global superstar.”