Happy Birthday Amitabh Bachchan: Meet the superstar's first acting guru

Updated: Oct 11, 2019, 08:08 IST | IANS |

Movie buffs might not have seen Amitabh Bachchan as an actor had Delhi University's Kirori Mal College drama teacher Frank Thakurdas not ask Amitabh Bachchan to take part in the activities of the College drama society

The image was shared by Amitabh Bachchan's official Instagram account
The image was shared by Amitabh Bachchan's official Instagram account

As Amitabh Bachchan fans across the globe celebrate his 77th birthday on October 11, it is time to remember his first acting guru Frank Thakurdas. Movie buffs might not have seen Amitabh Bachchan as an actor had Delhi University's Kirori Mal College drama teacher Frank Thakurdas not ask Amitabh Bachchan to take part in the activities of the College drama society.

That meeting with Thakurdas had changed the life of Bachchan, then a BSc student at KM College. He studied at KM College from the year 1959 to 1962.

A workaholic Punjabi Christian Frank Thakurdas was wearing several hats at KM College. Apart from being an accomplished English teacher, he was the bedrock of a college drama society. " I still remember vividly that one-day Professor Thakurdas told me I should take part in plays produced by the drama society of the college without further delay," recalls Amitabh Bachchan in an interview in 2017, adding: "He became my mentor in college from the very meeting. Thanks to him I learned the ABC of the theatre world -- like how to speak on stage, and the role of expressions in acting. He was a brilliant actor and director, too."

And then there was no looking back for Bachchan, as he started doing English and Hindi plays with tremendous zeal, dedication, and purpose. Not only in college and Delhi University, but KM College drama society was also staging plays in various parts of the Capital and Bachchan was an integral part of it.

Well, Bachchan was his first student who made huge strides as an actor. Later, Thakurdas was also responsible for shaping the acting careers of the likes of Shakti Kapoor, Satish Kaushik, and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. They all owe to him for giving them enough opportunities to learn "when I joined KM College in early 70, he was there and making his presence felt. I was overawed by the fact Frank sir also taught Amitabh Bachchan. However, he was not among those who bask in somebody else glory. When we talked about Amitabh Bachchan, he would say, "he was a great leaner and always keen to experiment. He had to touch the dizzy heights. However, he never boasted that Amitabh was his product," says noted actor-director Satish Kaushik.

Even after so many years and decades of leaving his alma mater, Bachchan is still indebted to ThakurDas for sending his name to the all-women college Miranda House, to take part in a one-act play. "While recalling his days at KM college a couple of years ago, he said with a smile on his face, "How can I forget his gesture of sending my name to Miranda House to take part in a one-act play?"

Tall and handsome Frank Thakurdas was a livewire, always available to his past and present students. His life revolved around his students. "Frank sir was my teacher in 1975. He taught us English poetry. He knew virtually everything about English poetry and plays. He was an authority on Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde, John Milton, John Keats. After taking our classes, he would rush to rehearse with his students for their Hindi plays," recalls Dr. Firoz Bakht Ahmed, the Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), adding: "He was also a fine Punjabi singer who trained generations of students with singular devotion and built Kirori Mal College's drama, debate and music reputation. "

Indeed, Frank Thakurdas was a legendary teacher and mentor. When a KM College auditorium named after him was in bad shape and required urgent maintenance, Amitabh Bachchan came forward at once and donated Rs 51 lakh so that it could be re-build in a grand manner.

Not only Bachchan, but many other students of Frank Thakurdas had also generously donated for the auditorium.

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  • 1/10

    Amitabh Bachchan's character died on-screen in successful films like Deewar and Sholay. His character in Coolie was also supposed to die, but following the on-set accident that nearly claimed the superstar's life, director Manmohan Desai decided to alter the climax and Big B's character was kept alive.

  • 2/10

    Amitabh Bachchan has also been a narrator for prominent films. In fact, he made his film debut in 1969 as a voice narrator in Mrinal Sen's National Award-winning Bhuvan Shome.

  • 3/10

    The legendary actor has made a special appearance as himself in a number of films like Guddi, Gol Maal and Hero Hiralal.

  • 4/10

    Apart from acting, Amitabh Bachchan hasn't shied away from singing as well. He sang Main Yahan Tu Wahan from Baghban, Ekla Chalo Re for the Vidya Balan-starrer Kahaani and Bol Bachchan from the film of the same name. His Mere Angane Mein song from Lawaaris remains among his most popular ones.

  • 5/10

    The 1994 film Insaaniyat was his last release before he took a brief sabbatical from acting. The film was scheduled to release in 1991, but was delayed due to several factors, which included the death of co-stars Nutan and Vinod Mehra.

  • 6/10

    Like in films, Big B was also a trendsetter on the small screen. At the time when movie stars shied away from appearing on television, Amitabh Bachchan took up the challenge of hosting Kaun Banega Crorepati. Television viewing was never the same again.

  • 7/10

    The Amitabh-Jaya Bachchan starrer Abhimaan released only a month after their marriage, in 1973.

  • 8/10

    Amitabh Bachchan's screen name has been Vijay in more than 20 films.

  • 9/10

    In a career spanning over four decades, Big B has played double roles in 14 films.

  • 10/10

    Amitabh featured in the 2010 Malayalam film Kandahar, alongside superstar Mohanlal.

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