On his 72nd birthday Subhash K Jha selects the 10 most underrated performances of Amitabh Bachchan
1. Saudagar: Sudhendu Roy's memorable film about a mercenary gur (jaggery) seller who marries the village widow Nutan only to exploit her gur-making talent is a classical study of patriarchal avarice. Big B with his dhotig hitched to his kneecaps looked every inch the authentic palm-climbing toddy merchant. Among his best to date.
2. Parwana: The jealous possessive victim of unrequited love who kills the girl Yogeeta Bali's father (Om Prakash) when he refuses to let him marry her, Parwana saw Big B as a desperate lover, filled with sweaty angst. Riveting!
3. Bandhe Haath: This psycho-thriller directed by O P Ralhan came just before Big B shot to ever-lasting fame in Zanjeer. He played a double role of a thief and a poet. This was the only film that brought Big B face-to-face with the luscious Mumtaz.
4. Sanjog: A 1971 ladies' picture with the focus on the very talented Mala Sinha who is married to and separated from Big B. Many years later, she returns in his life as his boss. A South Indian melodrama directed by S S Balan where Big B displayed his acumen for surrendering his ego to a character .
5. Bemisaal: Of all the films that Big B and Hrishikesh Mukherjee collaborated, this one under-performed the most. But Mr. Bachchan playing the faithful adopted son in a middleclass family with a dark dangerous past displayed tremendous chemistry in his scenes with Rakhee who played his best friend's wife. If the film were to be remade Sushant Singh Rajput would be the ideal replacement.
6. Faraar: Big B played a fugitive on the run who takes shelter in his former sweetheart's home where she's now happily married to her cop-husband. The bond that the fugitive forms with his ex-beloved's little son was astonishing in its filial authenticity. Faraar a flop, is today's forgotten. The Amitabh-Sharmila jodi never worked.
7. Alaap: Made during Mrs Gandhi's Emergency the unsuccessful Hrishikesh Mukherjee - Big B collaboration oozed despondency and despair. Big B was utterly credible as the hotshot lawyer and Om Prakash' son, who prefers to spend time with a classical singer rather than practicing his father's craft.
8. Main Azaad Hoon: Tinu Anand, one of Big B's closest friends fashioned this desi remake of Frank Capra's Meet John Doe. Amitabh Bachchan personified the rise of Everyman to a national hero. It was a rousing performance rendered to perfection.
9. Manzil: The only film that brought Big B together with director Basu Chatterjee featured the actor as an over-reacher filled with destructive middleclass dreams of affluence. The shades of grey always enhanced Big B's performance.
10. Nishabd: As a 60-plus man desperately in love with his daughter's friend Big B conveyed all the anguish of a hopeless passion, plus more. His monologue of guilt and repentance at the end as he looks straight into the camera is among his most accomplished performances in the post-Mohabbatein phase of his career when he entered another innings. Ram Gopal Varma, take a bow.
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