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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Bollywood legend eyes fruitful future
Amitabh Bachchan
Bachchan is now a worldwide celebrity
Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan - star of more than 100 films - speaks exclusively to the BBC to mark his 60th birthday.

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan has been a superstar for more than 30 years.

And as he approaches his 60th birthday, he has said he hopes to continue to entertain audiences for a long time yet.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava, Bachchan said he still had a long way to go to reach the height of his profession.

"Every artist has a desire to play as many different roles as he can... I'd say that I'm still open to fresh ideas, fresh roles that may come my way and which will challenge my creativity."

Bachchan, hero of more than 100 films and once dubbed the "most famous actor of the millennium" by BBC News Online readers, gave the interview to mark his six-decade milestone on 11 October.


Whenever you have a failure in life, it's a depressing phase, it kind of sets you back and makes you want to think again and I was no different

Amitabh Bachchan

Bachchan said he had been privileged to work with great Indian directors like Hrishikesh Mukheerji, Yash Chopra, Prakash Mehra, Manmohan Desai and Mukul Anand.

He also praised the writing duo Salim Javed, who scripted his first big movie hit Zanjeerand and were later associated with others such as Dewar and Trishul.

But the actor also talked with affection about his country's young and upcoming film-makers, including Adi Chopra and Karan Johar, who he watched grow up.

"I remember how they used to come to Abhishek's birthday parties, where they used to play Superman. I am happy to see them become real supermen of Indian cinema," said Bachchan.

No regrets

The son of a Hindi poet, Bachchan quit his job as a freight broker in Calcutta and set off for Bombay in pursuit of a career in the movies.

His acting career began in the 1970s and 1980s when he made his name as an action hero, a swashbuckling star of Hindi films.

More recently, his fame has spread around the world with the wider recognition of Indian films.

Amitabh Bachchan
Bachchan has also found TV fame

And he was also the narrator for the Oscar-nominated movie Lagaan.

Bachchan described his life and career as "fulfilling" and "wonderful". Faced with the choice, he said, he would go through it all again - even the failures.

His earliest films flopped at the box office and Bachchan admitted that, then, he had had second thoughts about acting.

"Whenever you have a failure in life, it's a depressing phase, it kind of sets you back and makes you want to think again and I was no different.

"I also felt that maybe I made a wrong choice or a wrong decision, maybe this is not the place for me. It would've been extremely embarrassing for me to get back to Calcutta to my old job.

"But somehow, you know, encouragement and support from the parents and the family just kept me going and things changed."

Successors

Following a lean period in the 1990s, Bachchan came back bigger than before when he moved into making TV shows.

One of his most recent roles has been as host on the Indian version of quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Now, as the popularity of Indian movies and culture spreads increasingly into Europe, Bachchan is becoming a global star.

Poster for the movie Lagaan
Lagaan was one of 2002's Oscar nominees

The actor said he was excited at the growing status of his industry abroad.

"There has been a lot of interest particularly in areas where there has been an Asian community - the expatriate is wanting to have some connection to his roots," he added.

And, as he reflected on his long and illustrious career, Bachchan concluded that he was more than pleased that his son, Abhishek, and daughter-in-law, Karisma Kapoor, had followed in his footsteps.

"More the merrier... I'm happy that Abhishek has chosen this profession and I am happy that the girl he has chosen to be his wife and my bahu is also in the films. I'm very happy."

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