The Bollywood actor's early films are fondly remembered because, in their day, they offered a triumphant alternative version of what it meant to be Asian
I was probably 12 years old the first time I saw an Amitabh Bachchan
film. It was the early 80s and video players were relatively rare. My family did not own one so my father would, like many Asians at the time, hire a machine, which he would pick up on a Friday evening and return on Sunday. The cost of the video hire was, I recall, £5, and my dad and I would also select three or four films to watch on the Friday and Saturday evening. Invariably, these films would star Amitabh Bachchan
Bollywood movies – especially those released in the 70s and 80s – are today often viewed as gaudy kitsch, but the pleasure I derived from titles such as Coolie
was entirely unironic.