In Jhund, Amitabh Bachchan essays the role of Vijay Barse. The actor has donned the character of Vijay over 20 times on screen.
Some characters stick with the audience so much, that it becomes difficult for viewers to see the actor as something else. Of course, this has changed as far as cinema of late is concerned. But back in the day, the name of a character was how a person associated with a certain actor. Shah Rukh Khan was (and for some, continues to be) Rahul, or Raj, and similarly, megastar Amitabh Bachchan will always be Vijay
All you needed to do was give a hit movie as that name, and the fans made sure that the name stuck. Slightly unbelievable as it sounds, senior Bachchan has donned the character of Vijay over 20 times on screen. So much so, he also inspired a cartoon character named Inspector Vijay back in the 80s. In his film Jhund, the Shahenshah of Hindi cinema is once again seen on the celluloid as Vijay, pura naam Vijay Barse. Ahead of the movie’s release, we take a quick look at the iconic Vijays Big B has portrayed till now.
It all began with this Prakash Mehra blockbuster. Till then, Bachchan had not really been able to break through in a big way in Bollywood. But with this ’73 feature about a cop bubbling with righteous anger, Bachchan stomped across the screen and into the hearts of people with his rendition of Inspector Vijay Khanna. The movie is iconic in more ways than one. Not only did Zanjeer channel the frustration of the masses with the system at the time, it also marked the beginning of the collaboration between Amitabh Bachchan and screenwriters Salim-Javed. Bachchan broke the mould of the Hindi film hero, and became a sensation with the resounding success of the film. Apart from the actor, Zanjeer also starred Pran and Jaya Bachchan in pivotal parts.
Two years later came another Vijay. This time around, Bachchan was seen embodying the rebellious spirit of Vijay Verma, who would do anything but not let his self-respect be bruised by picking up “phase hue paise.” With wonderful writing by Salim-Javed and understated performances by the cast (Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor in particular), Deewar cemented Amitabh’s status as the ‘angry young man’ of Hindi cinema. The film’s title stood for the wall between brothers Vijay and Ravi, portrayed by Bachchan and Kapoor, respectively. While Vijay went on to become a dockyard worker, Ravi became a police officer. As the two stood on opposite sides of the society, fans could not help but side with Bachchan’s antihero as he struggled to overcome his circumstances.
The victory march of Vijay continued with the superhit Chandra Barot directorial Don. Bachchan was both Don and Vijay Pal in this Salim-Javed film. Don is considered a classic and has influenced Hindi cinema so much that decades later, another superstar was seen essaying the same charismatic protagonist. Screenwriter Javed Akhtar’s (who had co-written the original Don script) son Farhan Akhtar made two Don films which were released in 2006 and 2011, both starring Shah Rukh Khan in the lead.
A decade went by in which Bachchan was seen as Vijay in other well-received films like Shakti, Shaan and Trishul, but since we are talking about only landmark movies, it seems safe to skip to 1988, when Amitabh was seen playing the twin roles of a seemingly corrupt cop who moonlights as an enigmatic vigilante. Vijay Shrivastav had seen his father apprehended for a crime he did not commit as a young boy, and that leaves an indelible mark on his psyche. This personal history helps him transform into an iron-handed renegade, with a noose as his weapon, the very same noose his father had used to end his life.
Shahenshah was a ticket smasher, with reportedly 20, 000 people coming in to catch the first show at Shiela Cinema in Delhi. Fun aside: Jaya Bachchan has been credited as the story writer for the film.
And the one to end it all, where Bachchan was seen almost declaring his name as yet another version of Vijay in this Mukul S Anand directorial. Leaning casually back into his chair as he sat across a mildly impressed Commissioner M S Gaitonde (Vikram Gokhale), Amitabh personified laid-back swagger in this now-classic sequence. Vijay Deenanath Chauhan wants to avenge the wrongful, gruesome death of his father, and so he ends up joining the underworld. The movie was not exactly a success at the box office, however, it did manage to win Amitabh his first National Film Award for his grounded performance. Agneepath famously featured a few lines of a poem penned by Bachchan’s father and poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan. The movie was remade in 2012 with the same name by producer Karan Johar, with Hrithik Roshan portraying the lead. Karan’s father Yash Johar had produced the original film.