Letting go doesn’t come particularly easy to Indians, it seems. Be it aging politicians, cricketers, or business barons, so many of them refuse to hang up their boots and move on. Does Amitabh Bachchan belong to this lot? Isn’t it time he retired?
Memories rewind to the 70s when, as a gawky pre-teen, I’d stand with a friend, outside Opera House or Maratha Mandir, desperately waiting for someone to sell off their extra tickets – because of course, the touts had cornered most of them. We were invariably lucky. Clutching the precious scraps, we’d spend the next 3 hours watching this lanky young screen-god, eyes burning with vengeance and suppressed pain, taking on a dozen goons and fighting the system. Or we’d see a moody poet, whose velvet voice resonated in our hearts long after the film was over.
To have that iconic figure, who gave us unforgettables like Deewaar, Sholay, Don, and Kabhie Kabhie, now chirping incessantly about herbal medicines and gel pens, urging one to buy boring necessities like detergents and – heaven help us – cement – is, to put it mildly, difficult to swallow. And by the way, does anyone even remember the actual brands?
Then, taking off from where Kaun Banega Crorepati left off, this actor played several typical roles: that of the supreme patriarch and the middle-aged lover. But these avatars were played out in successive movies, in every possible shade (the most idiotic being Sexy Sam, in robes borrowed from Santa Claus). Still, at least those roles were somewhat acceptable, if only because of the gravitas he brought to them. What about the others – the walking billboard in ‘Ek Ajnabee’, the bizarre ‘Aks’, the disgusting ‘Boom’?
Truth is, we’ve been OD-ing on Amitabh. Over-exposure apparently, is not a word that exists in his dictionary, or those of the filmmakers who keep mining his legendary aura. Who’re they kidding? For every finely etched Sarkar or Black, we’re punished with a slew of disastrous experiments. Few could stomach his May-December ‘romance’ in Nishabd. Cheeni Kum, after a marvellous first half, had him sink into absurd melodrama. The feather-hatted cameo from Jhoom Barabar Jhoom is best not discussed. RGV Ki Aag was the final straw.
Will Amitabh read the writing on the wall? Will he let go, content that he’s achieved what most actors can only dream of? What do you feel?