Amitabh Bachchan Birthday: Megastar played this character in his first movie

Ranchi’s poet Anwar Ali turns 80 on October 11. One may wonder who this Anwar Ali is. It is none other than Amitabh Bachchan, the superstar of Hindi films – who made his film debut as a character of this name more than five decades ago.

In ‘Saat Hindustani’, released in 1969 by journalist, screenwriter and filmmaker Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, the actor played the role of a poet who lived in Hindpiri, Ranchi. However, the character is completely fictional, ie no poet with this name has ever lived in Ranchi.

The story of the film revolves around the struggle to liberate Goa from the Portuguese occupation. Seven people from different states of the country leave for Goa for this mission, including Anwar Ali. In one of his dialogues in the film, Amitabh introduces himself and says, “Main hoon Anwar Ali. Bihar ke Ranchi ka rehne wala hoon aur shayri karta hoon.” (I am Anwar Ali. I live in Ranchi, Bihar and I am a poet.)

The sincerity with which Bachchan played this character earned him the “Best Newcomer” award for the role. Interestingly, Abbas paid him Rs 5,000 as an acting fee.

In one of his interviews, the actor was taped and said that while the fee wasn’t much at the time, it wasn’t extremely less for a newcomer either.

He had also said: “Agar Anwar Ali ke kirdar ke taur par mujhe break na mila hota, toh pata nahi mai aaj kis maukaam par hota.” (If I hadn’t had a break as Anwar Ali, I don’t know where I would be today.)

‘Saat Hindustani’ was first released at the Sheela Cinema in Delhi, and Bachchan watched the first show with his parents. Before that, the film’s trial screening also took place, with Abbas Saheb specially inviting Meena Kumari. Meena Kumari praised Anwar Ali’s character highly, which made Bachchan blush.

Abbas had a special bond with Ranchi and perhaps this is why he recorded Ranchi and mentioned it about half a dozen times in the script of “Saat Hindustani”. He was good friends with the famous writer Ghiyas Ahmed Siddiqui of Ranchi. According to Siddiqui’s brother and retired professor, Dr. Siddiqui Mujibi, Khwaja Saheb himself came to the station to receive him when his brother went to Mumbai.

Bachchan celebrates his birthday on the same day as the birthday of Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan, the leader of the ‘total revolution’. It may just be a coincidence, but as she plays the part of Anwar Ali, Amitabh takes his name in a dialogue. In the dialogue, he says: “Main us Bihar rajya ka rehnewala hoon, jaha Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan aur Maulana Mazharul Haque ki payaish huyi hai (I belong to Bihar state, where Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan and Maulana Mazharul Haque were born).

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