Not just the Angry Young Man: Six other Amitabh Bachchan characters

Written by: Gitanjali Roy   | April 24, 2013 15:22 IST (New Delhi)
Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan played multifarious on screen characters


Amitabh Bachchan's Angry Young Man was a game-changer in Bollywood. However, it would be a crime of cinematic proportions not to pay tribute to the other characters he played on-screen many, many times and made equally famous. (Read: Indian cinema@100: 9 facts about the Angry Young Man)

The elder brother:Deewar's Vijay Verma may have been the most famous example of the Angry Young Man, but he was also an early example of the elder son and brother, a role he later played in Satte Pe Satta, where he had no less than six broters; Naseeb, in which he played Rishi Kapoor's elder brother; Trishul, where he was the illegitimate half-brother of Shashi Kapoor and Poonam Dhillon; Hum, where Rajinikanth and Govinda play his brothers; and Kasme Vaade, with Randhir Kapoor playing his brother.

The best friend:Sholay celebrated friendship, but Amitabh Bachchan proved he could be a pal in many other films. In Namak Haraam, Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna are best friends, driven apart when Amitabh plants Rajesh in a workers' union only to have him switch sympathies. In Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, he sacrifices his love for Raakhee so she can marry his friend Vinod Khanna. In Dostana, he and Shatrughan Sinha are best friends who fall out over Zeenat Aman. In Yaarana, he pretends to be insane so he can join Amjad Khan in an asylum and help him regain his lost memory. In Namak Halaal, he is the loyal factotum-friend of Shashi Kapoor and helps him get the girl as well as defends him from would-be assassins.

The vigilante:Shahenshah and its classic dialogue - "rishtey mein to hum tumhare baap hote hain" - is the most famous instance of Amitabh as the outlaw. He also played a rustic, son of the soil vigilante in Ganga Ki Saugandh; one of two avengers, with Rajinikanth, in Andha Kanoon; an elderly vigilante in Aakhree Raasta; and a doctor-turned-death-dealer in Mrityudata.

The criminal: It was OK, even necessary, for Amitabh Bachchan to be on the wrong side of the law many times in his career. Apart from smuggler Vijay Verma, reportedly based on real-life gangster Haji Mastan, in Deewar, he played a petty criminal in Amar Akbar Anthony; a criminal for hire in Sholay; the eponymous Don; a happy-go-lucky swindler in Shaan; a thief forced into crime by circumstance in Kaalia; a contract killer hired to murder his lookalike in Satte Pe Satta; leader of a gang of bank robbers in Kaante; a bank robbery mastermind in Aankhen; a Godfather-like character in Sarkar and Sarkar Raj; a gangster-politician in Department; and, in a filmy twist of fate, the bandit Babbar Singh in Ram Gopal Varma's ill-fated remake of Sholay.

The cop: Amitabh Bachchan played a lawman in Zanjeer, the film that made him famous and marked the first of a legion of characters named Vijay. He also played a policeman in The Great Gambler, Ram Balram, Barsaat Ki Ek Raat, Geraftaar, and Khakee His day job in Shahenshah was that of a cop. He played a cop with a leather-jacket fetish in Bunty Aur Babli. In Aks, he played a policeman possessed by the spirit of a dreaded criminal.

The teacher:
Chupke Chupke's bumbling Professor Sukumar Sinha is often cited as one of Amitabh Bachchan's best comic performances. He also played an autocratic school principal in Mohabbatein, a teacher for the hearing and sight impaired in Black, and a college principal in Aarakshan.