BBC Asian Network Celebrates Amitabh Bachchan’s 40 years in Bollywood

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One of India’s most famous actors, Amitabh Bachchan, speaks exclusively to the BBC Asian Network as part of a special series of programmes, to mark the actor’s 40-year Bollywood career. The shows air during the week of December 7th to the 13th.

On Saturday (12th) and Sunday (13th) of December from 9am Love Bollywood’s Raj & Pablo visit Bachchan at his Mumbai home for an exclusive interview to look back over his remarkable Bollywood career.

Bachchan reveals how his phenomenal journey began when he gave up a career in engineering to become an actor. From sleeping rough to getting his first break, he talks about arriving in Mumbai in 1969 and how he got noticed by directors.

After starring in what is thought to be one of Bollywood’s most successful films of all time, Sholay, Amitabh explains how he thought he almost missed out on a bigger opportunity: “What disturbed me at that time was the fact that I couldn’t play Gabar Singh, because I felt that was the most important and really interesting character…but we never knew what we were doing was going to turn out to be so successful”.

Bachchan goes on to talk about his most memorable moments from his 40-years in Bollywood – including his infamous near death accident on the set of Coolie (1983); how he set up his ABCL business; and how he nearly went bankrupt. He says: “All the creditors were from my own industry, and I was going to remain here as an actor…I would not be able to face them if I knew that I owed them money. So…I worked hard and I paid back every single penny.”

From 1984 he took a four year sabbatical away from the industry but looking back at his decision, Bachchan questions whether he was right: “I was without a job, without money, with a huge amount of creditors. I went to Yash Chopra and said I need work. He gave me Mohabbatein [2000]), and slowly those character roles started coming my way.”

The whole Bachchan family are recognised as an acting dynasty. Bachchan’s wife is actress Jaya Bachchan; his son, Abhishek Bachchan and his daughter-in-law Aishwariya Rai Bachchan. Aishwariya went from winning the Miss World title to becoming the highest paid and most popular actress in Indian cinema. Talking about the ‘Bachchan brand’ he says: “I’m not able to understand the word brand, we’re all actors… and we are also family. We leave the home in the same car, we go to the studio and we share the same make up van and so on. But when the camera starts, we are all individuals and we play our role.”

This intimate interview is packed with famous songs from Bachchan’s movies including: Zaanjer, Deewar, Kabhie Khabi, Coolie; Sarkar; Bunty Aur Babli; and Khabi Khushi Khabie Gham.

Husain Husaini, Head of Programmes, BBC Asian Network, says: “Amitabh’s forty years in Bollywood have made him loved by Asian Network listeners of all ages. So to be able to celebrate his work with our special programmes and by getting his own perspective on his unprecedented career is a special highlight for us. The week of programmes are a must-listen for film fans and will give them a real insight into a Global superstar.”

Here is a full schedule for the week:

Monday 7th December Sanjeev Bhaskar asks why British-Asians have such an intense love affair with India’s top film star, the Big B. Bhaskar traces his own love affair with Bachchan from his early memories of watching his hero on the big screen to meeting his idol for the first time. He also hears from Oscar-winning actor and friend Sir Ben Kingsley. Asian Network Reports special at 6pm

Adil Ray Launches his search for the best Amitabh impersonator.

Tuesday 8th December
Nikki Bedi opens the BBC Archives on Bachchan, including Amitabh and his young wife Jaya talking about their lives together on the BBC’s Asian Magazine (1983), Bachchan meets his biggest fans and judges a lookalike/impressionist contest on Network East (1997) and Nikki Bedi talks to Amitabh at the IIFA Awards in Yorkshire on Desi DNA. Nikki Bedi, weekdays from 10am

Wednesday 9th December
Jayna Shah opens the lines to ask listeners about their favourite Amitabh movies and songs. Gujarati Show Wednesday 8pm

Thursday 10th December
Bobby Friction introduces a set of the biggest Bachchan tunes, mashed and refixed by Anil Kalyan. Check it out from 10pm

Friday 11th December
Jas Rao presents a Desi Dozen special. It’s all about Amitabh Bachchan. Jas picks six songs and the listeners pick the rest. You can listen weekdays from 3pm

Saturday 12th December Raj & Pablo talk to Amitabh Bachchan in his home in Mumbai. Listen to the first part of this interview. Love Bollywood from 9am.

Sunday 13th December The second part of the exclusive interview with Amitabh Bachchan with Raj & Pablo. Love Bollywood from 9am

The interview with Bachchan will be on the Asian Network’s podcast from 12th December and photos from the interview can be seen at:

Listen to BBC Asian Network at and on DAB / Sky 0119 / Freeview 709 / Freesat 709 / Virgin 912.

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