Flashback Friday: Big B on How ‘Bombay to Goa’ Gave Him ‘Zanjeer’
Mehmood and S Ramanathan’s road trip adventure film Bombay to Goa remains unforgettable even after 44 years. And that’s true not just for us, but also its lead actor, Amitabh Bachchan. Memories of the epic filmi journey from 1972 came rushing back to the actor recently, some of which he shared with his extended family via his blog. But first, here’s the song that is a compulsory hum for every journey that we all still make to beachy Goa.
The remake of Tamil film Madras to Pondicherry starring that great comedian Nagesh from Tamil cinema...Nagesh an iconic name and legendary presence in the South...his fame at times bigger than the hero stars of the day...Mehmood bhai chose to remake it...he being equally if not more in presence in Hindi cinema...his presence in film gave it huge star value...those were the times. For some reason he always believed in me... would address me as ‘Danger Diabolic’...never asked him why and how he arrived at this name, but he did. I was with Anwar, his younger brother in Saat Hindustani and our closeness lasts till today...I stayed with him for long...he stayed with me..Amitabh Bachchan, Actor
We thought since it is a bus journey, the entire cast being in the bus, we would actually take a bus from Bombay to Goa and keep shooting as we went along. We started from Mehmood bhai’s house in Andheri, now lost in real estate next to where Shoppers Stop is, and as we reached the crossing where now the flyover is, the strong lights inside the bus for shooting purposes were so hot they caught fire. Plan to travel and shoot abandoned, and we decided to do all bus sequences on back projection screen in Madras studio, and did most of the land sequences in Belgaum.Amitabh Bachchan
My first attempts at song and dance...with who? Aruna Irani!! The master and magician in dance, so accomplished, graceful and rhythmic! It was embarrassing. At the evening hours in a dilapidated closed worn out mill floor in Pune, dance Master and choreographer PL Raj (Devraj Lewis), his son the famous musician Leslie Lewis, stick in hand, beating the hell out of me to learn the steps...would rehearse the mornings shoot...knees lacerated, bleeding, tying them up with handkerchief to prevent further damage and not informing the crew for fear of being thrown out of the film, carrying on and trying to deliver.Amitabh Bachchan
Mr Bachchan goes on to share an interesting anecdote about how a chewing gum landed him his next big film, Zanjeer.
Dekha na hai re song done with back projection in studio in Madras...and to encourage this new comer AB, the entire cast would stand by the frame of camera and scream encouragement to me. What a sight and what a moment...such camaraderie and strength. Mehmood bhai urging me on to dance and give it all. After every take getting my spot boy to feed me with ‘mosambi juice’, gallons of it!!Amitabh Bachchan
While it’s immensely pleasing to read about the superstar’s humble beginnings, his accomplishments in the film world over 47 glorious years have given us so much to celebrate. In his blog Amitabh Bachchan also writes about the dire need for institutions to preserve film history and memorabilia. He’s persevered some of his own.
A history needs to be done, before its too late, to archive all this and more. The present Maharshtra Govt. is designing a huge plan to build a film complex with facilities and with records and museum and archival storage...there is so much history that needs to be kept for posterity, here in Mumbai but indeed in other places too. I believe there are institutions that work tirelessly on all this, some have been patronised by me in personal capacity, but a lot more needs to be done.Amitabh Bachchan