Amitabh lexicon: A joyride into Big B`s films

New Delhi: Here`s a book that Amitabh Bachchan fans can`t wait to lay their hands on - a compilation of selective words from English alphabets associated with different scenes from the actor`s body of work.

"Amitabh Lexicon" by film critic-writer Bhawana Somaaya is a colourful dictionary and a joyride to nostalgia for those who have grownup on a staple diet of Hindi films and Bachchan.

"I think it is a joyride into his films and a super game for his fans. It is a novel idea and completely original and if I may add very courageous. It was a daunting task - stimulating while I worked on it but I`m glad it is over. It has been a demanding book," Somaaya told reporters.

The idea of this unique book came to her almost 11 years ago.

"I was heading the creative team of a portal to be brought on Bachchan. We had to come up with new features everyday. One day I was with friends and suddenly all of us started speaking in Amitabh dialogues. The interesting thing was everybody connected without reference to context. Next day at our creative meeting, I suggested a dictionary on the actor associating words to his scenes and films. Everybody dismissed the idea but it stayed with me. It took me over a decade but I reproduced the idea as a book," she says.

According to the publishers Pustak Mahal, Bachchan has long since sublimated the language of cinema that is peculiar to Hindi films. He has worked its verbs, overwhelmed its adjectives, brought to life its nouns, subjugated its predicates and predicated its subjects. One realises that nearly every word in English could find its place in the cinematic vocabulary of the Big B.

The book features 2,833 headwords from 174 works of Bachchan over a span of 41 years works.

"Take a look: When I sat the word `abduct`, the scene that comes to my mind is from `Shakti`: As a little boy, Amitabh is kidnapped by his father`s enemies and though he somehow manages to escape, the episode becomes a turning point in the father-son relationship. Or when I say `backfire`, the scene that comes to my mind is from `Satte Pe Satta`: Amitabh is attracted to a nurse and showers her with watermelon and flowers but his strategy backfires for Hema Malini is not impressed and rebuffs him," she writes.

So for the word `abandon`, Somaaya cites the film "Khuddaar", saying, "Amitabh makes many sacrifices in his life to offer his younger brother Vinod Mehra a good life and education but when Vinod finds a rich wife, he abandons his elder brother to go and stay with his father in-law in their luxurious mansion."

On `abjure`, she writes, "Amitabh is an angry police inspector (in "Zanjeer") who is unable to fight the system and temporarily abjures his belief until his beloved and friend advises him to release his repressed rage and get even with his parents` killers."

And for `abolition`, a dialogue from "Deewaar" is mentioned whereby, "The dock workers pay hafta to the local goons. One day, Amitabh declares that he will put an end to the custom followed so far."

Bachchan`s earlier films feature more prominently in this book than his later ones.

"Perhaps because Bachchan`s earlier films were fantasy driven and included all kinds of props like a crocodile, a tiger and a dolphin which, over time, got replaced with more realistic images like a helicopter, a typewriter, an apron and a turban," the author writes.

Somaaya, who had earlier written two books on the actor - The Legend (a biography) and Bachchanalia (a pictorial book) - has no immediate plans for another work on Bachchan.

"All the three books were unplanned. They just happened. I have no plans to do anything as of now. But life is a surprise and one never says never. If I do another book on him it would be my impressions on the superstar," she says.

For her, today`s journalism is about accessibility.

"In the olden days we never allowed them to impose on our job and yet managed to be friends. Earlier it was about your skill as a professional and ethics as a person. Today it is about network. It is about your connection with PRs and celebrity managers," the former editor of Screen says.



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