Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan reaches out to touch fans gathered outside his residence on his 70th birthday in Mumbai yesterday.
MUMBAI: India’s favourite film star Amitabh Bachchan turned 70 yesterday, marking his birthday with a lavish celebrity party and drawing hundreds of fans to cheer their hero outside his home.
Bachchan, the elder statesman of Bollywood, hit the red carpet with his family on Wednesday night for celebrations in the entertainment capital Mumbai, where he was joined by a star-studded list of 800 guests.
Outside his residence in the city, fans gathered yesterday to present flowers and chant “Long Live Amitabh!” but the birthday boy struck a modest note.
“Birthdays are special for all... mine is no different... but (it) would never be the same without your love and affection,” he said to his more than 3.5 million Twitter followers.
Among the film, business and political bigwigs at the party was fellow acting superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who tweeted that he had “too much fun” dancing with Bachchan and his wife Jaya, who organised the bash.
Bachchan opened a mobile diabetes van at a Mumbai hospital yesterday. Known universally as “The Big B”, Bachchan made his name as the “angry young man” of Hindi cinema. He starred in more than 150 films including the 1970s hits “Sholay” (Embers), “Deewaar” (The Wall) and “Don”.
Still acting in several films a year, he was voted “actor of the millennium” in a BBC online poll in 1999 and became the first Indian actor to gain a lookalike at London’s Madame Tussauds waxworks museum.
“I just feel that so long as I have life and I have breath inside me, I should continue to work,” he told the DNA newspaper in an interview marking his birthday.
Bachchan’s legions of admirers monitor his health closely: he was discharged from a Mumbai hospital late in February after undergoing surgery twice for an abdominal problem.
He also nearly died following an accident on the set of the 1982 film “Coolie” where he ruptured his spleen during a fight scene.
Fans at the time prayed for his recovery, holding vigils outside his hospital and making offerings at temples and mosques.
The veteran actor is a ubiquitous figure in Indian life, hosting the local version of quiz show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”, supporting charity causes such as protecting tigers, and featuring in countless advertisements.
He is set to make his Hollywood debut with a fleeting appearance in the new adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel “The Great Gatsby”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and due for release next year. AFP