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Banking on Big B

‘I owe my career to his voice’
Stand-up artiste Raju Srivastava has made a living out of imitating Amitabh Bachchan for his stage shows

“It is thanks to Amitji’s deep baritone voice that stand-up artistes in the country are running their homes. Every stand-up artiste in the country has to have Amitabh Bachchan’s voice in one of their acts — or at least a line. I usually begin my shows with the famous dialogues from Deewar and end with lines from Kaun Banega Crorepati.

Raju Srivastava

Wherever and whenever I have done stage shows, I have always included memorable lines from his films. His voice is recognised all over the globe, so there is this instant connect with the audience. I was recently in New Zealand, and it was his voice that got the loudest applause. I have met Bachchanji several times and told him that I owe my career to his voice! Even when I was in Bigg Boss and he was the host, I kept on reaffirming it.

What I find most remarkable about him is his ability to reinvent himself. It’s a lesson for all actors. He has taught actors that age doesn’t matter. Also, what is noteworthy is his humility. He could be working with filmmakers as old as his son Abhishek or with debutants but he’s still receptive to new ideas and viewpoints. This is something that endears him even to the present generation in Bollywood. ”

‘When I lost my mother, Amitji called me from LA’
Singer and mimicry artiste Sudesh Bhonsle is known to imitate Bachchan's baritone to the T

My first song was for the film Ajooba when composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal introduced me to Shashi Kapoor who was directing this film. It was only after I recorded the song Ya Ali Ya Ali, did they tell me it was for Big B. I was both happy and nervous at the same time. Shashiji then asked me to mimic Amitabh's voice and offered me another song, which they were planning to record in his voice. Shashiji took me to the sets at Film City to finally meet Bachchanji. This is how I landed a second opportunity to sing, Jhumma Chumma in Hum for him. In fact, he had a tough time convincing Jayaji (Bachchan) that it was not his voice. .

Sudesh Bhonsle

When I lost my mother, he called me from Los Angeles to convey his condolences. Jaya and Abhishek visited me and I felt so touched.

During the recording of Mere Makhna from Baghban, Jayaji and Abhishek were present at the scene. After I finished the song, Jayaji came up to me and music director Aadesh Srivastava and gave us `100 each! Abhishek told me how this track would become one of Big B's most popular songs. Whenever I perform, everyone asks me to mimic 'Rishte mein toh hum tumhare baap lagte hai. Naam hai Shehenshah'. 

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