We decode Amitabh Bachchan’s onscreen romances
Zanjeer (1973) Director: Prakash MehraAs Vijay, the avenger of injustice meted out by the system as well as that of his childhood trauma, Bachchan’s was a character on the edge. A gentle romance develops between Maya, the chakku chooriwali, and him. Mala yearns for a home and life with him. But Vijay is unable to find consolation in a fairytale future. The scenes between them are few but tender. Especially, when she visits him in jail and later when she urges him on to vent to his angst.
Abhimaan (1973)Director: Hrishikesh MukherjeeThe romance and redemption of singer Subir (Bachchan) with the rustic Uma (Jaya) was traced through Majrooh Sultanpuri-SD Burman songs – Nadiya kinare, Teri bindiya re, Loote koi mann, Ab toh hai tumse, Piya bina and Tere mere milan… Blossoming intimacy, ego-driven estrangement and a tearful denouement. Abhimaan, still a superhit on satellite, has the power to turn an entire generation nostalgic.
Mili (1975)Director: Hrishikesh MukherjeeThis was a Hrishida entertainer with hues of tragedy. Mili (Jaya Bachchan) and Shekhar (Bachchan), as neighbours, are first at loggerheads. He can’t bear her childish impudence and she can’t take his standoffish stance. But when her father (Ashok Kumar) and she rush to help an injured Shekhar things begin to thaw between them. Memorable scenes are when Mili chides a drunk Shekhar for throwing a tantrum, when Shekhar bares the trauma of his mother being killed by his father to Mili, when the two watch stars at night and Mili child-like holds his hand. Also touching is the moment when he proposes marriage to an ailing Mili… knowing she’s in a twilight zone. The songs Badi sooni sooni hai and Aaye tum yaad mujhe spelt out his character’s loneliness
Deewaar (1975)Director: Yash ChopraHere, the anti-hero is the hero. Vijay (Bachchan) becomes an underworld kingpin, a fact that alienates him from his mother (Nirupa Roy) and brother (Shashi Kapoor). His revolt has a back-story. Young Vijay grows up bearing the cross of his father’s alleged misdeeds. The only respite in his life is Anita (Parveen Babi), whom he meets at a bar, the song I’m falling in love with a stranger playing in the background. Together Vijay and Anita symbolises a liberal relationship where they smoke, drink and have premarital sex. But the relationship was deeper than the corporeal. It hold a sympathetic resonance. Like the scene where Vijay shows her the ‘Mera baap chor hai’ tattoo and a sympathetic Anita bends down to kiss his tainted arm. Or the scene when she shows him the bridal saree, which her mother has left her. And finally, the scene where Anita, shot by his adversaries, dies in his arms and with her dies their unborn child and dreams of a redeemed future.
Sholay (1975) Director: ramesh sippyOne significant track in Sholay is the silent yet eloquent love between hoodlum Jai (Bachchan) and widow Radha (Jaya). Jai riding a buffalo bringing a smile on Radha’s face, he gently nabbing an errant lamb running away from her, she putting off the lamps at night, even as his plaintive notes rekindle the light of love in her… are memorable. Radha letting the garb of convention slip as she sobs watching Jai breathe his last… is haunting as a metaphor of love left chaste and incomplete.
Kabhi Kabhie (1976) Director: Yash ChopraThis was a classic template of unrequited love. Apparently, based on poet/lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi’s real life heartbreak, the film included his verses that were set to tune by Khayyam. The autumnal leaves of Kashmir strewn like scattered dreams matched Pooja’s (Raakhee) devastating beauty. Amit (Bachchan), as the poet, who seeks the world in his muse Pooja and then watches it splinter as she becomes someone else’s bride, was a character destined to lose.While she moves on and he apparently does too (he marries Waheeda Rehman), not for once does he allow the sense of bereavement to abandon him. Bachchan with greying sideburns and a subdued baritone cuts a brooding figure. Most notable is the scene where he meets Pooja at a TV studio for an interview… the years between them but not between his feelings for her… and recites… Tu nahin, tera gham teri justjoo bhi nahin, Guzar rahi hain kuchh iss tarah zindagi jaise,isse kisi ke sahare ki aarzoo bhi nahin…. Inhin andheron mein reh jaoonga kabhi kho kar… Kabhi kabhi mere dil main khayal aata hai… And in that, Bachchan immortalised Sahir, love and himself forever.
Trishul (1978) Director: yash chopraThe tale driven by Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan had romance seeping in unobtrusively. Vijay (Bachchan) is a man on a mission – to destroy his magnate of a father. Geeta (Raakhee),Vijay’s secretary, is a sympathetic listener and also his conscience keeper. The highpoint of their relationship comes when Geeta asks his leave one evening but a depressed Vijay asks her to wait. She tells him he should let in some love, some friendship in his life. To which he replies, “Aaj main bahut si dosti, bahut sa pyaar tumse maang raha hoon!” gently touching her face…
Bemisaal (1978) Director: hrishikesh mukerjeeSudhir Roy (Bachchan), a doctor, is a troubled character, someone who feels indebted for what his friend Prashant (Vinod Mehra) and his father have given him. In a bid to repay them, he sacrifices his love for Kavita (Raakhee). Kavita, though drawn towards Sudhir, is uncertain about his feelings and ends up marrying Prashant. Always nursing a soft corner for Kavita, Sudhir affectionately calls her ‘Sakhi’, a friend, rather than the more appropriate Bhabhi. Kavita enjoys the attention he showers on her, and in fact even turns possessive when he tries to mock-flirt with Ruby Dutt (Sheetal). In a final act of sacrifice, Sudhir goes to jail for the crime Kavita’s husband has committed. The dialogue between the two ‘soulmates’ when Kavita visits Sudhir in jail hints at their unspoken love bordering on the sublime…Sudhir: Sakhi, tum mujhe bahut apna maanti ho na?Kavita: Bahut. Mein khud hi nahi jaantiki tumhe kitna apna maanti hoon.
Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1978)Director: Prakash MehraThis was a tale of childhood love. An orphaned boy Sikander (Bachchan) falls in love with his master’s daughter. His love for ‘memsaab’, Kaamna (Raakhee), turns into a one-sided obsession right till his adulthood. But he sacrifices this love for good friend Vishal (Vinod Khanna), who also loves Kaamna. Traumatised by his unspoken love, he seeks solace in the arms of courtesan Zohrabai (Rekha). In an avatar that’s a take-off on Devdas’ Paro, Zohrabai embraces him and his pain. But circumstances force Zohrabai to commit suicide. Though Sikander believes he doesn’t love Zohrabai, watching her die in his arms, clad in white, a metaphor of pure love, makes the audiences wish otherwise. The chemistry is so intense it makes Sikander’s obsession for Kaamna appear pale in comparison.
Silsila (1981)This was a casting coup. Yash Chopra managed to get Bachchan, wife Jaya and alleged beloved Rekha in a story that brought out the intensity and insanity of love. Chandni (Rekha) and writer Amit’s (Bachchan) initial romance is all about poetry, moonlight and flowers.But when Amit loses his squadron leader brother, Shekhar (Shashi Kapoor), in an air combat, he marries his fiancée Shobha (Jaya), who’s bearing Shekhar’s child. A devastated Chandni moves on to marry Dr Anand (Sanjeev Kumar). Amit plays the dutiful husband and his acts of compassion andcare, translate into love for Shobha.Just then Chandni re-enters Amit’s life. Amit woos her with renewed vengeance throwing caution and convention to the wind. The lyrical quality of Amit’s romance with Chandni in the first half is offset with raging passion in the latter (where she tells him, “I hate you, I hate you,” even as she hugs him). Amit’s relationship with Shobha, especially in the scene when he finally confesses, “Waqt ke saath har rishta apni taaseer kho deta hai,” is sensitive and subtle.Though the film resorted to a conventional end, it was the extramarital affair between a gorgeous looking pair and the real-life innuendoes associated with them that brought in the audiences. A super hit on satellite, the film is a throwback to the times when Bachchan let down his hair… albeiton screen.
Shakti (1982)Director: ramesh sippyThe film brought titans Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan in the same frame. It was about DCP Ashwini Kumar’s (Dilip) obsession for his duty and son Vijay (Bachchan) misreading it as neglect towards him. A traumatised child, Vijay grows up to be a loner till he comes across Roma (Smita Pati), a singer, whom he saves from assault by hoodlums. While his animosity towards his father continues, he finds refuge in Roma whose presence in his life is unconditional. Memorable is the scene where in a moment of bitterness he says, ‘Mere baap ne do shaadiyan ki. Pehle shaadi ka beta main hoon; mere baap ki doosri biwi ka beta hai, kanoon.” She counters his outburst with a sympathetic silence. If the song Jaane kaise kab kahan unravels their passion, Vijay’s touch of reassurance to a pregnant Roma, when he attends his mother’s funeral, speaks of an understanding beyond words.
Manzil (1979)Rimjhim gire saawan filmed on Bachchan and Moushumi Chatterjee. against rain-lashed Mumbai is timeless.
Kaala Patthar (1979)The doctor (Raakhee) understands the ex-navy man’s (Bachchan’s) self-loathing and heals him with love.
Satte Pe Satta (1982)Grey-haired and blue-eyed Babu’s (Bachchan) romance with Seema (Ranjeeta) steals the thunder.
Agneepath (1990)Imagine getting married to a nurse (Madhavi) because she is the only woman who has seen him in the buff while nursing him! Well, Bachchan’s puritanical romance found takers.
Khuda Gawah (1993)The Pathan and his princess! This fairytale extravaganza was made tangible by Sridevi and Bachchan.
Baaghban (2003)The Amitabh-Hema chemistry was an ode to romance in the silver years.
Nishabd (2007)The only actor, who could have lent dignity to this allegedly Lolita-inspired saga, was Bachchan.
Cheeni Kum (2007)The R Balki May-September romance proves why not only Tabu but also a whole generation of young women can still throw away their hearts for Amitabh Bachchan.