History is witness to the highs and lows between the Gandhis and the Bachchans over the years. The two families were friends for long. And then came from the dark shadows. The Gandhi-Bachchan saga is no less than a typical Bollywood flick which has witnessed several twists and turns.
The Bachchan family’s ties with the Gandhi family, that is the Nehru family, dates back to the early 20th century when Harivansh (Amitabh’s father) and Motilal Nehru, being from the same city of Allahabad were both iconic and close aides.
Harivansh's wife and Amitabh's mother Teji Bachchan became a close friend of Nehru's daughter Indira. Later when the Bachchans moved to Delhi, Teji got fame as a social activist, and her friendship with Indira Gandhi became deeper.
Amitabh Bachchan (Big-B) first met Rajiv Gandhi when he was 4 years old and Rajiv 2 years. Their friendship grew stronger as they grew up particularly due to their shared interest.
Sanjay Gandhi would also accompany them at times and end up in discussions related to automobiles and flying machines (Sanjay was an auto freak whose ambition was to build a “people’s car”, and Rajiv was always fascinated with airplanes).
It was Amitabh Bachchan who received Sonia on a chilly winter morning at Palam airport on January 13, 1968 when she came to India as Rajiv's fiancée. She put up at the Bachchans' residence and Teji acted as Sonia's godmother and helped her get accustomed to Indian culture.
When the Rajiv-Sonia marriage was finally fixed in 1969, Sonia and her family moved in briefly and stayed at the Bachchans' New Delhi residence at 13, Willingdon Crescent.
The relations touched a new high in 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi persuaded his friend Amitabh to don the political cap and contest election from Allahabad on a Congress ticket. Amitabh was given a Congress ticket in 1984 and won from Allahabad with a handsome margin for one term. His emphatic win over Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna was perhaps the most memorable high in the bonhomie between the two high-profile families.
Amitabh quit politics and resigned after three years when a newspaper reported his involvement in the Bofors scam. This marked the beginning of souring of relations between the two families. Amitabh was later given a clean chit in the case by the Supreme Court.
The defence deal sowed the seeds of differences between the old friends. But despite bad times, the two families managed to maintain a facade of relationship and Big B joined the celebrations of the marriage of Priyanka Gandhi.
After a short stint in politics, Bachchan returned to Bollywood in 1988, but after the success of Shahenshah, his star power began to wane as all of his subsequent films failed at the box office.
The relationship between the two families worsened after Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in 1991, when the Gandhis felt that the Bachchans had left them alone in distress. The family, that could once walk anytime into the prime ministerial household, was suddenly treated like a pariah.
Bachchans on the other hand said the Gandhis brought them in politics and left them midway in trouble. Also, when Big B's company ABCL collapsed and he was passing through a huge economic crisis, the Gandhis did not come to his rescue. The crisis soured the relations further and Amitabh's wife, Jaya Bachchan went public with her disappointment.
Amitabh's old friend, Amar Singh, helped him during the financial crisis due to the failure of his company ABCL. The two became very close and later Jaya Bachchan was nominated to Rajya Sabha as a Samajwadi party member. The rift between the Bachchans and Gandhis widened as the Bachchans grew close to Amar Singh who, it is believed, was never in the good books of the Gandhis.
Last Updated 30, May 2020, 12:20 PM