President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday presented megastar Amitabh Bachchan with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Indian cinema's highest honour, in a special ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
Bachchan was earlier supposed to receive the honour at the National Film Awards ceremony last Monday, but the actor was unable to attend the event due to ill health. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar had announced at the awards that the Hindi cinema veteran will be bestowed with the honour in a special ceremony hosted by the President on Sunday.
The award, named after Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, who is revered as the Father of Indian cinema, was instituted in 1969, the year Bachchan made his debut in Hindi film industry with Saat Hindustani.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award comprises a Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus) medallion, a shawl, and a cash prize of Rs 10,00,000.
"I would like to thank the government of India, Information & Broadcasting ministry and the jury members of the National Film Awards for finding me deserving enough for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. God has been kind, there have been blessings of my parents, the support of the filmmakers, producers, co-actors from the industry, but I'm most indebted to the love and constant encouragement by the Indian audience. That's the reason I'm standing here. I accept this award with utmost humility and gratitude," Bachchan said in his acceptance speech.
The 77-year-old actor attended the ceremony with his wife, veteran actor-MP Jaya Bachchan and son, actor Abhishek Bachchan. Also present were the winners of the National Film Awards.
President Kovind is hosting a high-tea for all the winners at this residence on Sunday.
In a career spanning five decades, Bachchan has stayed at the top, surprising fans with memorable performances film after film.
Born to renowned Hindi poet Harisvanshrai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan in 1942, Bachchan started his cinema journey as a voice-over artiste for Mrinal Sen's Bengali film Bhuvan Shome and made his debut as an actor with "Saat Hindustani", which was not a box office success.
After a series of flops, the actor finally tasted success in 1973 as a lead hero with Prakash Mehra's action film Zanjeer.
The movie established him as the 'Angry Young Man', a persona created by scriptwriters Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, that embodied the frustrations and disappoinments of that generation.
He channelled the avatar in films such as Deewar, Sholay, Mr Natwarlal, Lawaaris, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Trishul, Shakti and Kaala Patthar.
Bachchan tapped into his sensitive side in middle-of-the-road films like Abhimaan, Millie, Kabhie Kabhie and Silsila.
He also tried his hand at comedy and went on to deliver hits like Namak Halal, Satte Pe Satta, Chupke Chupke and Amar Akbar Anthony, among others.
After a dip in his career during '80s, came the iconic role of gangster Vijay Deenanath Chauhan in Mukul S Anand's Agneepath (1990), which earned him his first National Film Award.
The actor switched to character roles in 2000s with Yash Chopra's Mohabbatein (2001), where he featured alongside Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai as a stern father.
He followed it up with his television debut as the host of the game show Kaun Banega Crorepati, which enjoys massive popularity and is a programme that the actor continues to host even now.
With age, Bachchan changed gears and started taking up films such as Aankhen, Baghban, Khakee, Viruddh, Sarkar series and Pink.
Black, Paa and Piku earned the veteran star three more Best Actor National Film Awards and they remain a highlight in his storied filmography.
In 2019, he received rave reviews for his performance in Badla.
The government honoured Bachchan with the Padma Shri in 1984, the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2015 for his contributions to the arts.
He has also stayed relevant through his campaigns for polio, tuberculosis, the girl child and other programmes.