Amitabh Bachchan is the older son of legendary Hindi poet, the late Harivansh Rai Bachchan. After finishing his studies in Uttar Pradesh and working in Calcutta for a while, Amitabh Bachchan arrived in Bombay to make a career in the Hindi film industry. His deep voice bagged him the role of narrator of the National award-winning film Bhuvan Shome (1969). He made his acting debut with Saat Hindustani (1969) the same year. But it was with Anand (1971) that the industry finally took notice of him. Amitabh Bachchan won his first Filmfare award, for Best Supporting Actor, for his role of a cynical doctor in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic in which the jovial and energetic lead role was portrayed by Hindi cinema's reigning superstar Rajesh Khanna. Anand (1971) was followed by roles in films like Guddi (1971), Parwaana (1971), Bombay to Goa
(1972) and Reshma aur Shera
(1971). But the film that propelled Bachchan to stardom was Prakash Mehra's Zanjeer (1973). Scripted by Salim-Javed, the film created the trope of the ‘Angry Young Man’ that would be played by Bachchan to the hilt in many films through the 1970s and early 1980s. The film was a big success – both critically and commercially. The success was followed by Abhimaan (1973) and Namak Haraam (1973). Bachchan then appeared in films like Roti Kapada aur Makaan
(1974), Majboor (1974), Mili (1975), Faraar (1975) and Chupke Chupke
(1975). In this period he experimented with various genres – from the comic to the thriller. The year 1975 was a momentous one in Bachchan’s life. It saw the release of Gulshan Rai's Deewar (1975) and GP Sippy's Sholay (1975). Both films were huge hits and are considered milestones in Hindi cinema history. Both have developed a cult following over the years. The angry young man took a break with Yash Chopra's romantic Kabhi Kabhie
(1976). Manmohan Desai's lost-and-found saga Amar Akbar Anthony
(1977) was also a huge success with Bachchan playing Anthony Gonsalves to Vinod Khanna's Amar Khanna and Rishi Kapoor's Akbar Allahabadi. Other notable films that Bachchan did were Parvarish (1977), Khoon Pasina
(1977), Kasme Vaade (1978), Don (1978), Trishul
(1978), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar
(1978), Mr. Natwarlal
(1979), Kaala Patthar (1979), The Great Gambler
(1979), Dostana (1980),
(1981) and Satte Pe Satta
(1982). Bachchan suffered a near fatal injury while filming Coolie
(1982) in Bangalore. The whole country prayed for the superstar as he fought for his life in Bombay's Breach Candy Hospital. Bachchan recovered and eventually completed the film as well. In 1984, he gave up his film career at his peak and entered politics on the invitation of his childhood friend Rajiv Gandhi. He contested the Lok Sabha election in November 1984 from Allahabad as a Congress candidate, defeating the formidable former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh HN Bahuguna.
But before his term was out, Amitabh Bachchan got entangled in a few controversies, most notably the raging Bofors scandal, and he quit his seat in Parliament and his career in politics, calling it a cesspool, to return to films with the superhit Shahenshah (1988). Film like Toofan (1989) and Jaadugar (1989) followed, but they did not do well at the box office. Agneepath (1990), however, was better received as was Hum (1991).
Bachchan then gave up films for the next five years. During this hiatus, he turned producer with Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL), which even conducted the 1996 Miss World event in Bangalore. But the company was poorly managed by those hired by Bachchan to run it and it soon ran into huge losses, forcing him to return to the big screen. His first release after the sabbatical was Mrityudaata (1997). It was followed by Major Saab (1998), the comedy Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998) with Govinda, Lal Baadshah (1999) and Hindustan Ki Kasam (1999). Most of these films did not do as well as was expected from an Amitabh Bachchan starrer.
In the ensuing decade, Bachchan resurrected his career with films like Mohabbatein (2000), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) and Baghban (2003) in many of which he either played a supporting role or played a lead role commensurate with his age. He was then approaching 60. His pathbreaking performance in Black (2005) earned him a National award.
Bachchan has remained a prolific actor into his seventies, doing films like Bunty Aur Babli (2005), Sarkar (2005) and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (2006), among others. Another stellar performance from the veteran came in Paa (2009), in which he played the unconventional role of a child suffering from progeria. Again, he won the National award.
Bachchan made his Hollywood debut at the age of 71 with The Great Gatsby (2013), co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He also hosted the immensely popular television quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati for many seasons.