Amitabh Bachchan redefined and revolutionized the very concept of “The Hero” in Bollywood, who were earlier mostly fair skinned chocolate boys mouthing homilies about morality and honesty when they were not busy romancing pretty damsels running around trees. The arrival and the advent of Amitabh phenomenon changed all that.
When the lanky and dusky Amitabh with brooding looks and a baritone voice was gradually emerging first as a star and then as a super star in the 1970s, he managed to achieve two things: First, both in his persona as well as performance, he represented the alienation and the angst of an entire post independence first generation of Indians, and thus was able to resonate with the large number of the youth population of that era, who could readily identify him as one among them, and flocked to his movies in droves.
Second, in his persona as well as performance as a hardened and no holds barred protagonist with average human aspirations who would not mind breaking a few laws or even a few bones on his way to upward mobility.
Amitabh very shrewdly and realistically shifted to roles matching his age and histrionics in his come back by the turn of this millennium, and has continued to impress the audience with a huge variety of roles playing them all to his strength. The fact that he won Three of his four National Awards for Best Actor (Male) in his second coming Black in 2005, Paa in 2009 and Piku as recently as in 2015 when he was all of 73, speaks volumes of how he achieved the successful transformation from a “star” to an “actor” in his later years.
Thus, Amitabh Bachchan was the “Product of his Times” who also has managed to adapt himself to the “Changing Times” successfully, to remain both active and relevant in a career spanning almost five decades. In my opinion, it is this which sets Big B apart from the other actors and affords him a unique niche in Bollywood.