I’m a huge fan of Amitabh Bachchan. But then again, who isn’t? He’s the king of Bollywood. BBC readers chose him as the greatest star of stage or screen of the last thousand years. I’m sure you’ve seen him as the angry young man in Sholay, or the angry old man in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Or, if not, as the randy boa-wearing letch in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna? Oh, you really should. (I’m sure you’ll see him in The Great Gatsby when it finally hits screens.)
And then you should read his comics.
Yep, Amitabh, the superhero.
I didn’t know these puppies existed until the Bangalore comic book convention, but one awesome old fan had hung up his collection, framed.
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They weren’t for sale. They were only for cool.
It turns out that at the height of AB’s fame in the early 1980s, Star Comics released a short-lived series of comic books based on him. The meta conceit? Behind his movie star cool, Amitabh was actually a real-life superhero named Supremo. He wore manly pink tights, a purple-hued dress, and wraparound visors that sit somewhere on the edge of awesome.
The quest for the comic took months — but when I finally found a tattered copy of The Kidnap on eBay.in, I was overjoyed. Completely magnificent 80s trash. (What do I like that isn’t trashy?) Filled with slapstick violence, bad punchlines, and awesome clothes.
He runs his superhero operations from a top secret submarine with his best pals, the crimesolving adolescents Vijay and Anthony. That’s a bit of an inside joke, of course… AB’s characters were always named Vijay or Anthony.
For some reason they dress like Dickensian pickpockets, but I’ll leave that to you to ponder.
Oh, did I mention the zoo? That’s right — along with Amitabh and the two kids, there’s a talking falcon, a crimesolving leopard, a few tigers… The kind of menagerie every superhero needs.
It’s Life of Pi with more pink tights.
And plenty of in jokes for Big B fans. Which, to be fair, includes almost every Indian alive. (Oh, I beg you to differ!)
Now, if the pink tights and purple dress seem a little unique for the biggest movie star in the world, I’m happy to remind you that nothing has changed. Here are some of my favorite outfits from the awesome Kabhi Alvida.
Of course I will, Big B!