May 26, 2020
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Amitabh Bachchan, Actor

The angry young man of the 1970s has now morphed into playing character roles. His five-decade run in cinema and on television is showing no sign of unspooling.

Amitabh Bachchan, Actor

His intense, brooding ‘angry young man’ was legendary. Much has been written of that persona and how it reflected the disillusionment, cynicism and angst of the 1970s, turning Amitabh into a one-man industry. Unmistakably at the Bollywood helm, he single-handedly drove the box office. At the same time, he personified the mood of the nation. What’s surprising is that even now, at 70 years, when most people retire and retreat, Bachchan’s sway refuses to abate. His influence far outweighs that of the filmi Khans, political bigwigs and moneybags. So it couldn’t merely be his perceived proximity with people of power and clout—the Gandhis, Amar Singh, Anil Ambani—at various points. What really gives? Is it that he represents enterprise at its most fundamental? The outsider factor? Or is it staying power? Since his debut in Saat Hindustani in 1969, Bachchan has straddled five decades in Hindi cinema, logging more than 160 films. He returns once again with Satyagraha this month-end. In what for others would be the twilight of their careers, Bachchan marches in perhaps the longest winning streak for an Indian star. The transition from hero to father and character actor roles is what other stars struggle with. Certainly not him: his brand recall spreads across all age groups—from eight to 80. Without getting dated, he has branched out into other mediums—advertising and brand-ambassadorship of not just products but even a state (Gujarat). Even if you have not seen a Bachchan film in a decade, you would still have seen him on TV. Now, yet again, he appears as the benign patriarch-host in Kaun Banega Crorepati. He has embraced newer modes of communication, blogging and tweeting with flair. His fans refuse to fade away. His power too.


2. Mukesh Ambani The clout in government of India’s richest businessman is well-known. That he appeals as an icon was less-known.   3. Raj Thackeray The whipping up of a petty localism, the mannerisms of his uncle Bal Thackeray seem to have worked to a degree.

4. Sharad Pawar Long stints in Delhi have failed to diminish his control of the sugar belt and his party’s grip on Maharashtra.   5. Uddhav Thackeray Other than politics, his passion is for photography. The new chief has a milder mien than his father too.
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