Amitabh Bachchan is one of the most active actors in Bollywood, even as an octogenarian. As he turns 81 today, we look at his most unconventional roles, all of which unsurprisingly fall in his second innings as an actor, when he got rid of the baggage of a lead actor. (Also Read: Amitabh Bachchan gets emotional as fans celebrate his 81st birthday on KBC: ‘Aur kitna rulayenge aap log?’)
Amitabh played a cop, Inspector Manu Verma, in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s 2001 supernatural action thriller Aks. When he nabs a dreaded hitman Raghavan (Manoj Bajpayee), the latter’s spirit enters Manu’s body and takes control over him. Amitabh struck a fine balance between altruism and devilry in this complex role of a possessed cop.
Amitabh essayed a disgruntled London chef, Buddhadev Gupta or Buddha, in R Balki’s 2007 directorial debut. His demeanour was anything but Buddha-like, as he didn’t spare anyone his acerbic dialogues, including his mother (Zohra Sehgal) and prospective wife Neena (Tabu). Amitabh was his snarkiest best, but also lent his bitter character some heart.
In a recent interview, director Ram Gopal Varma confessed that he wasn’t sure if Amitabh would agree to do the lead role in his 2007 film Nishabd. As Vijay Anand, Amitabh was at his creepiest, lusting over Jia (Jiah Khan), the friend of his daughter. But he never crossed the line that comes with such borderline despicable characters.
Amitabh was famously unrecognisable as Auro, a kid battling progeria, a condition where he ages rapidly. His eyes did all the talking, as he played the son of a politician played by his own real-life son, Amol (Abhishek Bachchan), in this Balki directorial. One must point out that Balki is one of the frontrunners in pushing Amitabh to his creative edge.
The Great Gatsby
Amitabh essayed the colourful gambler, Meyer Wolfsheim, in his Hollywood debut, Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 historical romance The Great Gatsby. While he didn’t play the lead character here, Amitabh held his own in front of Hollywood’s most promising actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, with an ease that can come only with experience and a tremendous amount of security as an actor.