Just watched Amitabh Bachchan’s Bbuddah hoga terra baap.
As one reviewer has put it: “Corny, a little desperate and contrived, but Bbuddah Hoga knows that and doesn’t care… Bachchan playacts here, but with chutzpah and humour and still has the power to make you smile and weep… for fans, it is one big, happy bear cuddle with the man with whom they’ve had their longest love affair.” And by God, it stirs nostalgia with spades.
The director says at the end that it is an unabashed and feisty tribute to the icon so many of us have grown up with (and like whom so many of us are growing old now), and many of us, even very solemn and learned and successful ones among us, have secretly longed to emulate, at least in some ways, at least at some stage of our lives.
What a career it has been, through so many ups and downs, so many disasters, so many write-offs, so many comebacks, so many avatars! Just glancing down a list of all the memorable movies and roles takes one’s breath away. Since the days of Saat Hindusthani and Anand we had Zanzeer, and Namak Haram and Chupke Chupke and Deewar, through all-time landmarks like Sholay, and then Amar Akbar Antony, Muquaddar ka Sikandar, Kaala Patthar, Adaalat, Trishul, Don, Silsila and Shakti, by which time he was probably the most famous Indian alive, through the disaster years that began with the near-fatal accident on the sets of Coolie, disease and family trouble and political mess and financial crisis, and then, when virtually everyone had given up on him as a burnt-out has-been, barring occasional blips like Agneepath and Suryavansham, there came the renaissance that started with Mohabbatein and has not run out of steam yet, and he has already given us as varied fare as Bunty aur Babli, Cheeni Kum, Black, Viruddh, Baghban, Paa, Sarkar, Bhootnath, Nishabd, Dev, Khaki, Rann and The Last Lear. Along the way he made a huge success of KBC on TV, and has managed to impress all kinds of industry greats including Francois Truffaut and Satyajit Ray, for that unique trademark baritone if nothing else, and has even set his own benchmark as a playback singer (who can say s/he has been unaffected by Mere pas awo mere doston ek kissa suno or Main or meri tanhai or Rang barse…? you should try out this latest number too, if you haven't heard it already).
And he has never really been handsome and smart, either, except insofar as he defined those ideas to fit himself and persuade hundreds of millions of cinegoers, including those who were always a little worried about whether he could even act at all! What can you say about a man like that? What kind of staying power does it call for, what kind of talent and grit? All I could think of after watching Bbuddah was, be as solemn or corny or heartrending or way out as you like, Mr. Bachchan, only live and act some more years, and “do not go gentle into that good night… rage, rage against the dying of the light.”