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Wednesday, 20 December, 2000, 16:27 GMT
Wax debut for Bollywood star
Amitabh Bachchan
Bachchan - with his replica (left) - has appeared in more than 100 films
By BBC arts correspondent David Sillito

Madame Tussauds has created a waxwork of the actor recently voted by BBC News Online's readers as the greatest star of stage and screen, Amitabh Bachchan.

A giant of India's Bollywood film industry, Bachchan has appeared in more than 100 films.

But until now Tussauds in London has not had any likenesses of the stars from what is the most prolific film industry in the world.

"I want to thank the people, my fans, who have continued to be with me for over 30 years now," Bachchan said after inspecting his effigy.

"I am just so overwhelmed by their enthusiasm and this is indeed the most wonderful gesture."

Amitabh Bachchan
Bachchan fronts India's Who Wants to be a Millionaire
Following a spell in politics, he is now the presenter of an Indian version of the gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Amitabh Bachchan started acting more than 30 years ago, and in the 1970s he was the biggest film star in India.

His persona as the "angry young man" carried him through dozens of films and brought him a passionate following from millions of fans.

When he was seriously injured whilst filming the movie Coolie in 1983, thousands held a vigil outside the hospital where he was being cared for. National news issued regular updates on his recovery.

By the end of the 1980s his career had peaked and he turned his attention towards politics.

'Angry young man'

Supporting Rajiv Gandhi, he won a parliamentrary seat but eventually returned to the cinema. His second coming failed to repeat the success of his glory years in the 1970s and 1980s.

It appeared that the "angry young man" had, over the years, lost something of what had made millions identify with him. Few would have expected the next twist.

He was offered the job of presenting Kaun Banega Crorepati, or as it's known in Britain, Who Wants to be a Millionaire. And just as in Britain and the US it has become phenomenally successful.

The audience who would have watched all his movies 20 years ago are now staying in and watching him on television, four nights a week.

Millennium star

For those who have only seen European and American movies, his appearance at the top of the list of BBC News Online's stars of the Millennium may have been perplexing, but for the millions who've watched his movies, his star power is greater than anything Hollywood has to offer.

Bollywood is also a growing presence in the UK.

Its films have started to appear in the British top 10 and the UK has become one of its biggest export markets.

Movies that have done little in the Indian market have been hits in the UK and America. Films are now being made with this audience in mind.

The crowds turning up at Madame Tussauds to see Amitabh Bachchan are seeing both a star they grew up with and the recognition of the cultural impact of the world's most prolific movie industry.

The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"One of the most successful careers in film history"
See also:

11 Jul 00 | South Asia
Bachchan: India's comeback kid
29 Sep 00 | South Asia
Star to stay on Indian Millionaire show
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Bollywood's wax dreams
05 Dec 00 | South Asia
Game show turn off for Indians
01 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Bollywood star tops the poll
31 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Indian cinemas are Millionaire losers
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