It might seem a bit odd that for Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday, I am sharing a still from a movie that perhaps marked the pinnacle of Rajesh Khanna’s career. But when one superstar struck his highest note, yet another one began making inroads with this very film. Amitabh Bachchan recounted in his interviews how he felt he’d arrived since he was getting a chance to act alongside Rajesh Khanna, who had redefined the concept of superstardom in Bombay. Anand had a light mood throughout, which got punctuated with a sense of impending doom every now and then. The feeling had to explode in full force in the climax. Anand (Rajesh Khanna) has passed away and his friend and doctor Bhaskar (Amitabh) enters the room realising he has missed the last moments of his friend. What we see is a complete breakdown of Bhaskar. And then, without warning, one hears the tape recording of Anand, which plays out his famous “Babumoshai! Hum sab rangmanch ki kathputhliyan hai…“
Amitabh could not get his act right in his head and didn’t know with his limited experience what had to be done there. He lived with Mehmood’s brother Anwar those days and shared this problem with Mehmood, who told him. “Imagine, it is not Anand but Rajesh Khanna who is dead! RAJESH KHANNA IS DEAD!”
In the 1970s, Rajesh Khanna’s blink of the eyelid and tilt of the head set a wave of current down the spine of moviegoers and if that were to come to an end, the nation would be drowned in sorrow. Amitabh went for the shot and gave his all to the scene. Understated with his muted anger throughout the film, Amitabh’s explosion in the climax summed up the disbelief of the viewers as well, who could not accept the death of Anand. On the day of Anand’s primiere, Amitabh went to get fuel filled in his car at a petrol pump on SV Road. Nobody recognised him then in morning. Later in the day, he went to the same place and people began to throng at his car. They knew this was the doctor in Anand. Amitabh Bachchan had arrived.