The Big B

Only five years ago, it looked like it was all over for the King of Bollywood. After ruling Indian cinema as its undisputed superstar for a quarter century, Amitabh Bachchan began to bomb. A succession of films bled money. Endorsements dried up. Even his company's 1996 production of the Miss World beauty pageant was plagued by protests from both Indian conservatives and feminists. By the turn of the millennium, Bachchan found himself $20 million in debt and staring obscurity in the face. "The industry thought he was finished," says Ram Gopal Varma, director of Bachchan's latest hit, Sarkar. So did Bachchan....

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