Not just Brahmastra, Amitabh Bachchan’s voiceover won our hearts in these 8 films too
Baritone voice. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Amitabh Bachchan. He is not just a good actor, his voice has a separate fanbase altogether.
Back in the 2000s, 9pm meant the neighbourhood booming with “Deviyon or sajjano” (ladies and gentlemen), as Bachchan would take the stage to host a new episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati. It is unsurprising, therefore, that for directors spanning generations, he has been the go-to person for voiceover.
The most recent to join the bandwagon of directors turning to Bachchan to narrate their stories on screen is Ayan Mukerji. His Brahmastra: Part One - Shiva opens with Bachchan — who also plays a significant role in the film — taking the audience through the story of Brahmansh that protects the Astraverse and introducing us to the Astras.
Even as the end credits roll, it is Bachchan’s voice that announces the sequel in the franchise.
Here, we take a look at some of the iconic films where Amitabh Bachchan has lent his voice as the raconteur.
Bhuvan Shome (1969); directed by Mrinal Sen
Mrinal Sen’s award-winning film is Amitabh Bachchan’s first as a voiceover artiste. The film credits carry his name, albeit without the surname, as narrator. This was the first time that the Indian audience heard this baritone, long before it became famous. It was his voice that strings together the flow of the narrative. This also marked Bachchan’s debut in the film industry.
Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977); directed by Satyajit Ray
This was the only time the two legends — Satyajit Ray and Amitabh Bachchan — got to work together. Bachchan never got the opportunity to be directed by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker on screen. He had to contend himself by lending his voice for Ray’s only Hindi language film, Shatranj Ke Khilari. His narration in the beginning sets the tone of the film. In 2016, on Ray’s death anniversary, Bachchan tweeted that he had the “great privilege of giving my voice in one of his films”.
T 2234 - Satyajit Ray death anniversary .. had the great privilege of giving my voice in one of his films .. SKK pic.twitter.com/pWUek84Ioc— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) April 22, 2016
Lagaan (2001); directed by Ashutosh Gowariker
If one had to narrow down two things Indians are collectively crazy about, it is certainly cricket and Bollywood. And when the two come together, sparks fly, magic happens. Ashutosh Gowariker’s period drama, Lagaan — centred around a game of cricket between a group of villagers in central India and the British company stationed there — went on to bag an Oscar nomination for the best foreign language film. Bachchan lent his voice to this magnum opus set in 1893.
At a function celebrating the tenth anniversary of Lagaan, director Gowariker had revealed that he was initially in a dilemma about using Bachchan’s voice as the narrator, as it was too familiar to the audience. That, he thought, would dissuade the viewers from associating this film to the era it was set in i.e. 1893. However, producer-actor Aamir Khan reasoned with him, making Gowariker change his mind.
Thankfully so, because one cannot imagine Lagaan minus the Bachchan baritone announcing, “San 1893. Champaner…”
Parineeta (2005); directed by Pradeep Sakar
Fireworks streak the sky as a sonorous voice fills up the threatre, “Kalkatta ban gaya hai khushiyon ka, sapno ka, laut aaye apno ka sheher.” The climax of Pradeep Sarkar’s Parineeta weaved magic as Saif Ali Khan’s Shekhar is reunited with his childhood love, Lalita (Vidya Balan). And the voice artiste behind this captivating moment was of course Bachchan, who turned Shekhar and Lalita’s love story into a charm that only a city like Kolkata possesses.
Jodhaa Akbar (2008); directed by Ashutosh Gowariker
After Lagaan, Ashutosh Gowariker teamed up once again with Bachchan for another period film, Jodhaa Akbar. A classic love story set in the Mughal period, the romance between the Rajput princess and the Mughal emperor became more endearing with Bachchan’s dramatic voice-over at the start of the film.
Kahaani (2012); directed by Sujoy Ghosh
Sujoy Ghosh’s suspense thriller set in Kolkata needed a strong voice that could help the audience connect with the film. And who better than the jamaibabu of the city to do the job? Amitabh Bachchan’s first job was also in this city. Thus it was fitting that Bachchan lent his voice in an ode to Kolkata and Durga Puja in the film’s climax.
Begum Jaan (2017); directed by Srijit Mukherji
National Award-winning director Srijit Mukherji collaborated with several stalwarts for his first Hindi project, Begum Jaan. The film, a remake of Srijit’s Bengali blockbuster Rajkahini, recounts the effects of Partition on a group of prostitutes who refuse to vacate their brothel that falls along the Indo-Park border line. Bachchan’s voice introduces the kotha of Begum Jaan at the onset of the film, instantly transporting the audience to 1947.
Radhe Shyam (2022); directed by Radha Krishna Kumar
Released in March 2022, Radhe Shyam is a period drama set in Europe of the 1970s. The film is an epitome of grandeur with visually stunning locations and opulent sets. Bachchan’s voice-over at the beginning of the film matches the scale, promising an epic love story between the lead pair, played by Bahubali actor Prabhas and Pooja Hegde.
Thank you Shahenshah @SrBachchan sir for the Hindi voiceover of #RadheShyam. #Prabhas @hegdepooja @director_radhaa @UV_Creations @TSeries @GopiKrishnaMvs @AAFilmsIndia @RadheShyamFilm #RadheShyamOnMarch11 pic.twitter.com/xrqZWGXoj1— Radha Krishna (@director_radhaa) February 22, 2022
Bachchan has lent his voice to several other films as well, from Shakti Samanta’s Balika Badhu to the recent Sankalp Reddy’s The Ghazi Attack.