Grandpa-to-be Bachchan in new action film

Amitabh Bachchan (SUPPLIED)

Veteran Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan may be nearing 70 but he hopes that his new action film will prove he still has what it takes to beat the bad guys.

The 68-year-old, best known for classics such as "Sholay" (Sparks) and "Deewaar" (Wall) in the 1970s, plays a gangster in "Bbuddha... Hoga Tera Baap" (Your Dad's Ancient), which hits screens on July 1.

"The Big B," as he is widely known to fans, sings, dances and fights his way through the film in a similar way to his "angry young man" characters of old. The only difference now, he jokes, is that he's just an "angry man."

"It's always difficult to do action at this age but thanks to technology in cinema, life has become much easier but still you need your basic energy," he told reporters in Mumbai recently.

"I don't go out and do things that will make me feel young, except the regular gymnasium regime, yoga and eating the right food."

Bachchan, who retains a faithful, fanatical band of followers in India and across the world, has been a mainstay of Hindi-language cinema for the last five decades.

But his longevity is all the more remarkable given that he nearly died in an accident on the set of the film "Coolie" in 1982 and the resulting operation and blood transfusion led to him contracting cirrhosis of the liver.

The teetotal actor has been in and out of hospital for check-ups ever since, including on his 66th birthday in 2008, sparking concerns among fans and vigils at the hospital where he was treated.

"Bbuddha" is co-produced by Bachchan's own AB Corporation Limited (ABCL) at a reported cost of 100 million rupees (ê2.2 million).

The company co-produced Bachchan's 2009 film "Paa" (Father) in which he played a child with a rapid-ageing disease opposite his real-life son, Abhishek.

Bachchan's production company struggled with debt in the 1990s and he even had to mortgage his house. But with age, he says, he realised the wisdom of taking smaller, rather than large risk projects.

The actor, who has starred in more than 150 films, says that work is what drives him, even at an age when most people would be slowing down.

He writes a daily blog and is active on the micro-blogging site Twitter, keeping fans up to date at length with his latest projects and musings on life in general.

He has recently been seen in the film "Aarakshan" (Reservation), alongside Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone, while he has two other films in the pipeline.

One of his next projects is as host of a new series of the Indian version of the hit British gameshow "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", which helped revive his fortunes with the public after a series of flops in the 1980s and 1990s.

"It is work that drives me," he said. "I feel happy that I get up in the morning and I have work to do. I will keep working till I die."

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