Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and his family has been long known as close aide of the Gandhi clan.
The two powerhouses in Bollywood and politics seemed undefeatable, up until the legendary actor was caught between the Congress-BJP feud.
The story behind these friends turning into awkward foes certainly makes up for an Indian version of ‘Game of Thrones’ – sans the blood and gore.
The beginning of a new friendship
The rapport between the two families can be traced back to Amitabh’s father Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan, who worked in India’s Foreign Ministry as a Hindi Officer. Jawahar Lal Nehru, had high regards for him, which brought the families close, while they stationed in Allahabad.
Amitabh’s mother Teji Bachchan became a close friend of Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi.
In 1968, Sonia Gandhi, arrived to India as Rajiv’s fiancée. It was AB who received her at the Palam airport. She stayed at the Bachchans’ New Delhi residence at 13, Willingdoon Crescent, to learn about Indian customs and traditions from Teji.
AB’s mother worked as mediator between the Italian lot and Indira, who initially was reluctant about her son’s choice.
AB gets banned by the media
In the year 1975, India observed Emergency that was declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Reports suggest that Amitabh used his influence to shutdown Stardust magazine. While censorship isn’t new to the press, it was imposed harshly on Stardust for carrying pieces on Big B, especially those regarded by some as a part of Yellow Journalism.
The only reason, this ban was exercised with total monopoly is because not many publications covered entertainment news. It was only during the magazine boom in India, Bollywood became a part of the news coverage.
Due to this cold war between the two parties, Stardust along with other magazines came together and banned Bachchan once and for all.
However, it was in 1982, when Amitabh met with a fatal accident on the sets of Coolie (1983), and Stardust offered a peace treaty by publishing an article on him.
AB joined politics
Indira was assassinated in 1984. It was during this time that AB took a break from films and entered politics on Rajiv Gandhi’s persuasion.
When Bachchan started campaigning, the craze among his followers led to an increasing crowd.
During this time, Election Commission played an ‘unbiased’ role and ordered Doordarshan that “Amitabh Bachchan’s films should not be broadcast during the Election Code of Conduct”.
Despite the ban, Bachchan won the elections back then defeating Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, a former Congress member and UP CM who joined Bharatiya Lok Dal.
In an interview with Dharamyug magazine in 1985, Sonia spoke about her association with the Bachchans. She said, “Mummy [Indira] had asked me to stay with the Bachchans [before her wedding] so that I could learn Indian customs and culture from close up. Slowly I came to learn a lot from that family. Teji aunty is my second… No, my third mother. My first mother is in Italy and the other was my mother-in-law Mrs Indira Gandhi, the third is Teji Aunty. Amit and Bunty [Ajitabh] are my brothers.”
Former Union Finance Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh in his memoir 'Manzil Se Jyada Safar' said that Rajiv used to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands with Bachchan and said he was removed from the finance ministry because of the latter.
Singh said that he conducted raids on suspected tax evaders including Big B, and given how close the families were, he lost his position.
"We heard that Amitabh Bachchan landed there and poisoned Rajiv Gandhi's ears. The decision to remove me from the finance ministry was taken there only."
The dramatic downfall post Bofors
After reaching a peak in his career, AB quit politics given the dramatic downfall post the Bofors scandal. This was when he finally sat down with the MD of Stardust Nari Hira and cleared the air, ending the film ban of fifteen years.
While Amitabh had lost his status as the “hero” in Bollywood, he did some hits like Agneepath (1990), Hum (1991), Mohabbatein (2000), and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001) to name a few.
Needless to say, the roles in these films weren’t as meaty as his hay days as the only angry young man in the 70s.
This was when he began his Television career as the host of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC).
Big B had to work to make up for the loss he incurred over the years.
Jaya’s entry in politics and AB’s new friend Amar Singh
In order to cope with financial crisis, Big B received help from his old friend Amar Singh. This is when the actor leaned toward Samajwadi Party, the political party to which Amar Singh belonged.
Fast forward to 2004, the Mrs – Jaya Bachchan also joined SP and continues to represent as MP in Rajya Sabha till date.
Jaya was quoted saying at an election meet in the same year: "Those who brought us into politics left us midway. They left us when we were in a crisis. They are known to betray people.”
The reference was toward Gandhis, if that wasn’t obvious.
Congress Vs AB
The cold war began, Bachchans and Gandhis engaged in a mudslinging affair, pulling each other down by giving quotes to the media.
During the Congress rule in 2005, Big B was slapped with Income Tax notices, and illegal possession of agricultural land.
In 2010, AB became the face of 'Khushboo Gujarat Ki' campaign under the reign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the then Chief Minister and served as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
This riled up the Congress. The then Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan said, "He's the brand ambassador of another state, we would like to promote our state.”
The fallout and reunion of BFFs
Big B and Amar Singh remained close friends until the two had a fallout a few years ago. Singh had earlier said that it was Amitabh Bachchan's decision to end their friendship and also said that the actor and his wife Jaya were living separately.
In 2015, in an interview given to The Telegraph, Singh Said "I regret the way they treated me opportunistically. But I maintain that a good human being can be a bad actor and a good actor may not necessarily be a good human being."
The feud which started with Jaya Bachchan's Rajya Sabha seat was long-drawn. Thus when the leader got accused of manipulating the situation to make the Bachchan family resign from the Sahara board it was the final nail in the coffin.
However, their differences came to end recently when the leader took to Twitter to confess that he regretted his overreaction against Amitabh Bachchan and his family.
An emotional Singh recorded the video and posted on his official Facebook account after receiving a message from Bachchan on the death anniversary of his father.
“If not anything, he was elder to me. I should have been sober to him. I realise I must express regret for the harsh words I used (against them). In my mind, more than hatred, I had disappointment towards his behaviour. But it seems, he never had any disappointment, nor bitterness in him (against me)," said a feeble looking Amar Singh.
“He has some feelings. That's why he has conveyed his tributes on my father's death anniversary. Acknowledging that I would urge God to give justice to all according to their karma. We should leave it to the almighty," he added.
As the political sycophancy continues, Jaya remains the face of SP – away from showbiz, Big B has resumed work on KBC season 12.