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Memorable films

Abhishek Bachchan


Upperstall profile by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan

It is not easy to live under the shadow of the superstar of the millennium who is possibly the most well-known personality in India but to his credit, in spite of a tough struggle, Abhishek Bachchan has successfully carved out his own place in the sun as a bankable actor in the world of Hindi cinema.

Abhishek was born in Mumbai on February 5, 1976, the son of star actors Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri and grandson of the great Hindu and Urdu poet and writer Harivansh Rai Bachchan. Dyslexic as a child, he did his schooling between Jamnabai Narsee School, Bombay Scottish School and Modern School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. He then went on to Aiglon College in Switzerland before going on to Boston to complete his studies. However, he left the course mid-way to come back to India and try his luck as an actor.

Abhishek was to have been launched by JP Dutta in The Last Mughal but when that did not work out, Dutta launched him and Kareena in Refugee (2000). In the film Abhishek plays Refugee, a young man who helps smuggle people across the border between India and Pakistan before finally finding himself. Though the film failed to make the impact it should have, the newcomers got positive reviews from all critics and viewers. But it was Kareena who got the headstart and better follow up projects.

In fact, the period following Refugee was however the most difficult phase in Abhishek's career. Like his father had to struggle from 1969 -1973 with all his films flopping till Zanjeer (1973) came along, Abhishek's films too, one by one, came unstuck at the box office. Films like Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya (2000), Dhai Akshar Prem ke (2000), Bas Itna sa Khwaab Hai (2002), Shararat (2002), Haan...Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya (2002) and Mumbai se Aaya Mera Dost (2003) all sank without a trace. What's more Abhishek too made no major impact in these films as the filmmakers were at a loss how best to utilize him. In Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya for instance, he is made to perform in a manner recalling his father in his hey dey and naturally he cuts an embarrassing picture doing so.

The turn around was slow. Zameen (2003), a film based on transnational terrorism and the hijacking of an Indian Airlines Airbus to Khandhar, actually performed quite well at the box office giving Abhishek his first real taste of box office success. Abhishek himself is spot on as the ACP trying to trace out the gang supplying illegal arms and whose girlfriend, Bipasha Basu, is an air hostess in the hijacked aircraft. Main Prem ki Deewani Hoon (2003), an awful remake of an earlier Rajshri hit Chit Chor (1976) with Hrithik Roshan's worst ever over the top performance, saw Abhishek come up with the best and most restrained performance of the film. Though playing a strictly supporting part, Abhishek is the silver lining in the film even if his character is totally unbelievable. Can a young business tycoon of today's time living in the United States have no friends, live in a private cocoon and not even have had a normal conversation with a girl??? Come on!

2004 was finally Abhishek's breakthrough year in the film Industry. Though Runand Phir Milenge, where he gave an earnest lawyer fighting HIV patient Shilpa Shetty's case, failed to click, Dhoom was a huge success at the box office and Yuva, uniting Abhishek with Director Mani Rathnam, saw him get his best ever reviews as an actor. Though Abhishek's thunder is stolen by John Abraham in Dhoom, there is no doubt he is absolutely brilliant in Yuva. Abhishek and Rani's story is easily the best track in the film that has its share of moments but nevertheless falls short of Mani Rathnam's best works. Their rough and tender relationship due to Lallan's mood swings are believable and credible. He can be manic and violent who thinks nothing of beating his wife and can yet be the most charming and tender of lovers when he wants to be. It is a great on the edge performance by Abhishek and won him the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor.

2005 saw Abhishek consolidation his new found stardom with the success of Bunty aur Babli and the relative success of Bluffmaster. However, his performances which should have got better and better following Yuva were strangely listless and disappointing particularly in the former. An exception was Sarkar, Ram Gopal Varma's take on The Godfather, where his intense performance in the Al Pacino role won him the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for the second year in a row.

It would be a hattrick of awards with his fine turn in Karan Johar's otherwise long and laborious marital melodrama, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006). Abhishek gamely rises above proceedings showing some extremely good comic timing yet exuding seriousness, sensitivity and intensity when he has to making it one of the better performances in the film. That year Abhishek also tasted his biggest ever box office success with Dhoom 2 but unlike Main Prem ki Deewani Hoon, this time Hrithik walked off with all the accolades as he effortlessly stole the film from the rest of the cast.

Abhishek reunited with Mani Rathnam for his take on Dhirubai Ambani, Guru (2007). The film did quite well at the box office and at his best moments, Abhishek is nothing short of brilliant in the film (the scene where his brother-in-law reveals the truth to this wife about her marriage) and while his performance is refreshingly natural and charming as the young man making his fortune, it appears laboured and even a little stilted as he ages. The mannerisms, gestures, dialogues are deliberate and over the top to show he has aged. And there is a sense of deja vu in some of his angry young man scenes which at times seem to be invoking his father. But all in all, he more than ably carries the film on his shoulders.

Post Guru, Abhishek's films Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007), Laga Chunari Mein Daag (2007) and Drona (2008) have been major disappointments. However, he has bounced back strongly with the Karan Johar produced Dostana (2008) where he shows impeccable comic timing and easily walks off with the film. He has other important films coming up like Mani Rathnam's next, Raavan (2010) an ambitious take off on the Ramayan.

On the personal side, Abhishek was earlier involved with his Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya co-star, Karisma Kapoor. The couple announced their engagement on Amitabh Bachchan's 60th birthday on October 11, 2002 but called it off in January 2003. Abhishek then subsequently got involved with Aishwarya Rai with whom he had done Dhai Akshar Prem ke, Kuch Naa Kaho, Umrao Jaan (2006) and Guru (2007). Their engagement was formally announced on January 14, 2007 and the couple married on April 20, 2007 and though the wedding was supposedly a private affair intended only for the Bachchan and Rai family and friends, the involvement of the media from outside made it a national circus.





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