I have never seen Bachchan Saab so happy, and I do mean never in my 25-year association with this incredible artiste.Nag Ashwin’s Kalki has recalled Mr B’s 51-year young superstardom from Zanjeer. But there is a difference.

Amitji was the last choice for Zanjeer, after Dev Anand, Raj Kumar and Dharmendra said no to the offers.

For Kalki , Bachchan Saab was the first and last choice.

The director Nag Ashwin said to me, “There was no way I was going to compromise on Amitabh Sir’s casting. It had to be him, or no one else. I don’t know what I’d have done if he said no. Luckily for me he was as excited about his role as I was.”

The kind of adulation that Amitabh Bachchan is receiving for his role as the mighty Ashwathama in Kalki 29898 AD makes one wonder if there are any semi-colons, let alone fullstops in this actor’s life.

At 82, he shows the showworld that he is at the top of the game, with no competition anywhere in sight.

Could there be another Amitabh Bachchan ever? He is the tree of life with other actors of successive generations serving as branches and twigs.

And to think that lately, it seemed like the end of the road for him, what with a slew of unworthy projects being unleashed with imbecilic impropriety. And Mr B never realized how those fanboy filmmakers were bringing him down by showcasing him in celluloid fanmails.

It started early in an obnoxious film entitled Bbuddah…Hoga Terra Baap. Directed by Puri Jagannath(to whom goes the credit for nearly destroying Vijay Devarakonda’s career in Liger), the film read like a running commentary on the Bachchan legend. Blessed are the generations that get to see India’s most iconic and enduring screen-hero play a variation on all his most cherished roles. The iconic super-hero manoeuvred through his tailor-made role with a devastating dexterity, creating a celluloid combustion that leaves a trail of smoking guns, screaming tyres and satiated expectations that audiences felt and experienced in the heydays of the Bachchan Raj.

The reign never ended . How can it when there were so many fanboy directors fawning over the Bachchan stardom? Nag Ashwin too is a fan. But he doesn’t let his awe come in the way of controlling the Bachchan’s iconic personality , harnessing it into a character which is at once intimidating and awe inspiring.

That priceless incomparable voice which had lately begun to sound like a parody of the original baritone , is subdued and sublimated to echo eternity.

As far as I can see Bachchan Saab’s career could be divided into three phases. The first phase began with Zanjeer. The second phase as a senior version of Vijay in Zanjeer started with Aditya Chopra’s Mohabbatein.

Now comes the third phase : Kalki casts the Bachchan as the ageless sage , a figure far removed from the hubbub of human activity. He is timeless !

I remember how concerned Mr Bachchan was about transitioning into his second phase with Mohabbatein. “I was in that awkward phase in my career where I was too old to play the Angry Young Man and too young to play the hero’s father. I would remain eternally grateful to Mr Yash Chopra for showing me the way.”

Now, Mr B is enjoying Phase 3 of his career thoroughly. He insists that everyone he knows watch Kalki and won’t rest easy until they do. There is a new sprint in Bachchan Saab’s gait which reminds me of Lataji’s song Aaj kal paon zameen par nahin padte mere.

During one of my conversations with Mrs Jaya Bachchan recently I had suggested that Mr B take it easy.

“Are you mad?!” she had screamed. “He can’t be not working. It is the only thing that validates his life. Don’t even suggest it to him.”

I am glad I didn’t .