New Delhi: He was once rejected by All India Radio for his rich baritone, something which would ironically become Bollywood Shahenshah Amitabh Bachchan’s signature of superstardom in the years to come. The megastar made his film debut in 1969 as a voice narrator in Mrinal Sen’s National Award-winning film “Bhuvan Shome” and since then there was no turning back for him — as an actor, singer and, in later years, an anchor.
Big B’s entry into the world of singing happened by chance, as an actor who was required to exercise his vocal chords for the first time in a song of the 1979 film “Mr. Natwarlal”. The song, “Mere paas aao”, was more about the hero sonorously narrating a story to kids at a camping trip in the jungle, and it didn’t require him to really exercise any serious crooning skills.
Incidentally, before he made his mark as a successful singer, Amitabh Bachchan had already carved his niche as a narrator. Celebrated film director Satyajit Ray was so impressed with his voice that he decided to use Big B as the narrator of his 1977 film “Shatranj Ke Khilari”.
Bachchan’s real coming of age as a singer happened with “Silsila” in 1981. The Holi number Rang barse” would go onto become an anthem. Big B also sang “Neela aasman so gaya” in the film, besides rendering soothing poetry – “Main aur mere tanhai aksar yeh baatein karte hain” – with Lata Mangeshkar’s rendition of “Yeh kahaan aa gaye hum” in the film.
There have been many more blockbuster songs sung by Big B over the nearly four decades since ‘Silsila released. We list a handful that makes it to the Top List, and tell you why these numbers have stood the test of time:
* MERE PAAS AAO (“Mr Natwarlal”)
In this 1979 film, Big B flaunted his vocal prowess in a situation where his character, a teacher, tells a story to children he has accompanied to a camping trip. The music was composed by Rajesh Roshan and the lyrics were written by Anand Bakshi.
* RANG BARSE (“Silsila”)
This song has stood the test of time as probably the most popular Bollywood Holi number. The track was in the 1981 film was picturised on Rekha, Big B and Jaya Bachchan. The lyrics were penned by Big B’s father and legendary poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and the song was composed by Shiv-Hari.
* NEELA AASMAN SO GAYA (“Silsila”)
Javed Akhtar’s poetry was brought alive by Amitabh Bachchan’s rich voice, on the beats of Shiv-Hari’s music in the Yash Chopra romance. The song utilises Big B’s voice quality well, to bring out the pain of separation.
* MERE ANGANE MEIN (“Laawaris”)
This is a famous number not just because it was sung by Big B but also because the icon dressed up as a woman for the dance. Composed by Kalyanji Anandji and written by Anjaan, it is still popular even after 37 years of its release.
* GENIE RAP (“Aladin”)
The megastar tried rapping with aplomb in the 2009 fantasy-adventure film directed by Sujoy Ghosh. The song was picturised on actors Riteish Deshmukh and Big B.
* HORI KHELE RAGHUVEERA (“Baghban”)
Another Holi song sung by Big B that became hugely popular in its time, when the film released in 2003. The number stars Bachchan alongside Hema Malini. The music director was Aadesh Shrivastava and Sameer penned the song.
* MAIN YAHAN TU WAHAN (“Baghban”)
The emotional track was composed by Aadesh Shrivastava and written by Sameer. The number poignantly put forth the pain of separation that the characters of Big B and Hema Malini undergo in the film. It remains one of the most mellifluous numbers the superstar has ever sung.
* EKLA CHOLO RE (“Kahaani”)
It was a tribute of sorts paid to noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore by Amitabh Bachchan.
The megastar sang the entire number in Bengali. Composer duo Vishal and Shekhar recreated Tagore’s tune for the new version.
* CHALO JANE DO (“Bhoothnath”)
Starring as a friendly ghost haunting a mansion, Bachchan befriends a child. The song describes their relationship — at times they fight and at other times they make up. Actress Juhi Chawla shared the mic with Big B for this song.
* ATRANGI YAARI (“Wazir”)
A song talking about friendship, was sung by Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar, who also starred in the film. Rochak Kohli composed the music for this with lyrics by Deepak Ramola.