I just saw Nishabd while in Hyderabad, and was again impressed by the range of Amitabh Bachchan, at this age and in this phase of his career. It’s a sensibly handled movie, with Bachchan towering above all else. The complete understanding with which he essayed a 60-year-old man infatuated with an 18-year-old girl was excellent. You don’t need to understand his character’s nature, or the details of his 27-year marriage, or why his passion is photography.
Critics have panned the film’s abrupt ending, where we see Bachchan’s introverted character lost for all good; the man has severed ties with his wife and daughter, cannot erase the girl from his memory and even contemplates suicide. He just wants to live out his days thinking of the tender moments with the girl. The story ends on that note. What, did you expect his wife and daughter to accept him back into their hearts? No, he went through some emotions that were never going to be understood by anyone but himself, he made a mistake and was man enough to accept it.
But I’m not here to write a film review. Hats off again to Ram Gopal Verma for tackling an issue which people don’t want to talk about publicly. And to Bachchan for again leaving us blown away. Watch the film just him, and the stunning cinematography (has Munnar eve looked so haunting?)
Bachchan has come a long way in his career. His career has seen so many phases - the Anand-Bombay To Goa days, the post-Zanjeer glory days, leading up to a fatigued Khuda Gawah, and the post retirement phase, which included embarrassing horrorfests like Mrityudata and Laal Baadshah but was resurrected by a supreme Kaun Banega Crorepati?.
One of his best works was in Anand, but the image that came from blockbusters like Zanjeer, Deewar and Sholay is indelible. Bachchan has portrayed many diverse roles in his illustrious career: the aforementioned four movies aside, think Abhimaan, Trishul, Amak Akbar Anthony, Sharaabi, Don, Aakhree Rastaa, Agneepath from the pre-retirement days.
Indian cinema has changed since Bachchan started out: the budgets, the technology, the mindsets. Today the veteran is going through the best phase in his career, with roles offering him scope to go beyond the stereotype.
The estranged, bitter bodyguard in Ek Anjabee; the grieving father fighting for his murdered son’s justice in Viruddh; the Mumbai godfather Subhash Nagre, at the nucleus of a vortex of crime, greed, family relationships and revenge in Sarkar; the eccentric, alcoholic school teacher suffering from Alzheimers in Black; the determined DCP in Khakhee; the title role of the faltering old guard carrying a deep secret in Eklayva; and even in the under-rated Bunty aur Babli, the inspector chasing the two cons, where his comic timing is superb.
In this phase, let’s celebrate Bachchan the actor for choosing his roles.