Yesterday’s Gulabo, today’s Sitabo: Amitabh Bachchan as metaphor for India

Amitabh Bachchan, Gulabo Sitabo
Amitabh Bachchan’s cinematic odyssey from the erstwhile Gulabo of Indian cinema, to its Sitabo, is a metaphor for India.

What do you know if you know only Gulabo Sitabo alone? For those still to hit their 30s, answering this would be an exercise in believe it or not. But what follows is true.

Once upon a time in India, there used to be a megastar called Amitabh Bachchan whose every film would create a mass hysteria among his fans, which was literally almost all of India.

On the morning of the release of his films, people used to race to theatres at dawn, stand in queues that could be measured not in inches but kilometres. For hours they used to jostle, climb on each other, get beaten up by cops, and finally, after hours of ordeal, go back home after reading an inevitable sign: House Full.

The lucky ones, of course, knew where exactly to find the ubiquitous star of every Bachchan release — the 'blackie' (the cycle-stand contractor in most cases) who would sell tickets for a huge premium (black, ergo the name) to let you into a theatre reeking of smoke and anxiety.

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