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Bachchan celebrates seven decades of being alive

October 11, 2012

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, left, and his wife Jaya Bachchan arrive for a party on the eve of his 70th birthday in Mumbai. AP photo

MUMBAI: India's favourite film star Amitabh Bachchan turned 70 on Thursday, marking his birthday with a lavish celebrity party and drawing hundreds of fans to cheer their hero outside his home.

Bachchan, the elder statesman of Bollywood, hit the red carpet with his family on Wednesday night for celebrations in the entertainment capital Mumbai, where he was joined by a star-studded list of 800 guests.

Outside his residence in the city, fans gathered on Thursday to present flowers and chant “Long Live Amitabh!” but the birthday boy stuck a modest note.

“Birthdays are special for all... mine is no different,” he said to his more than 3.5 million Twitter followers.

Among the film, business and political bigwigs at the party was fellow acting superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who tweeted that he had “too much fun” dancing with Bachchan and his wife Jaya, who organised the bash.

On Thursday Bachchan was due to open a mobile diabetes van at a Mumbai hospital. Known universally as “The Big B”, Bachchan made his name as the “angry young man” of Hindi cinema. He starred in more than 150 films including the 1970s hits Sholay (Embers), Deewaar (The Wall) and Don.

Still acting in several films a year, he was voted “actor of the millennium” in a BBC online poll in 1999 and became the first Indian actor to gain a lookalike at London's Madame Tussauds waxworks museum.

His legions of fans monitor his health closely: he was discharged from a Mumbai hospital late in February after undergoing surgery twice for an abdominal problem. The actor nearly died following an accident on the set of the 1982 film Coolie where he ruptured his spleen during a fight scene.

Fans at the time prayed for his recovery, holding vigils outside his hospital and making offerings at temples and mosques.

The veteran actor is a ubiquitous figure in Indian life, hosting the local version of quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? supporting charity causes such as protecting tigers, and featuring in countless advertisements.

He is set to make his Hollywood debut with a fleeting appearance in the new adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and due for release next year.