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Wednesday, July 14, 1999 Published at 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK


World: South Asia

Bollywood superstar 'surprised' by vote

Amitabh Bachchan was surprised at being chosen

By Sanjeev Srivastava in Bombay

Millennium
Indian film superstar Amitabh Bachchan has expressed his surprise at the outcome of a BBC News Online poll for the millennium in he was chosen as the greatest star of stage or screen.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Bachchan said: "As a matter of fact, there has been a lot of disbelief and surprise as far as this announcement is concerned."


Listen to Amitabh Bachchan's interview with the BBC
He said that when he read it in the papers, it "was very humbling."

"There've been a few phone calls and bouquets and then it all begins to dawn on you that it's for real," he added.


Amitabh Bachchan: "It's just disbelief"
To his fans, the crowning of Amitabh Bachchan as the millennium's biggest star was only a vindication of their long-held belief in their hero's prowess.

But Amitabh Bachchan - who made his name as a swashbuckling action hero - said it was a humbling experience to find one's name in the company of Hollywood greats like Lawrence Olivier, Alec Guinness and others.

Brando 'the greatest'

He said if he had been asked to choose the star of the millennium his vote would have gone to Marlon Brando.


[ image: Marlon Brando: Amitabh Bachchan's choice]
Marlon Brando: Amitabh Bachchan's choice
"I've always admired Marlon Brando's work," he said.

"I think he set out a certain concept, a certain style, a certain vision of film performances unheard of earlier.

"I can safely say that for myself and many others, there hasn't really been a single actor who came after him who was not influenced by him. His sheer strength and greatness of performance, his presence and style make him my star of the millennium."

The Big B phenomenon

It is not easy to explain the Amitabh Bachchan phenomenon even to Indian teenagers - who missed out on the superstar's golden days in the 1970s and 1980s - let alone to those unfamiliar with the world of Indian films or Bollywood.

Suffice it to say that an entire generation grew up idolising Bachchan, trying to copy his hairstyle, his walk and even the rich baritone of the star's voice.

And when Amitabh was seriously hurt about 20 years ago filming an action scene for "Coolie", thousands of fans stood vigil and prayed for days outside the Bombay hospital in which he was admitted.

Millions of others fasted for his speedy recovery.

Carrying on working

Amitabh Bachchan may no longer be the biggest draw at the box-office in India, his films may flop - but they still get a terrific opening all over India.

Film magazines as well the regular press in India still lap up every word he says.

Bachchan got his first big break in an action film, Zanjeer, where his portrayal of a rebel police inspector out to avenge the death of his parents catapulted him to superstardom and gave him the title of angry young man.

On his recent films not doing so well and about his future plans, Bachchan said success and failure was a part of the game.

"Sometimes one is successful, but most of the time you fail."

"I guess if you have enough faith in your performances and faith in the medium, you just carry on. So long as there are people who want to work with me and offer me roles, I'd continue to work.

"The day they ask me to stop, I'll stop, " he says.



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