The Story of the Bachchan Surname

Amitabh Bachchan's family surname was Shrivastav. His father was Harivansh Rai Shrivastav. So how did the Bachchan surname come about?

Names and nomenclatures are important, interesting and fun. It’s why we make it a point to put a lot of thought into the ideas for the products that showcase them. Happily, all this hard work has helped us become India’s most accomplished maker of name plates and, in the process, introduced us to hundreds of names, nicknames, family names, and stories connected to tens of thousands of names. Many of these stories are rather intriguing and we think worth sharing with you; something we are going to do in a series of blog posts centred around answers to quirky questions like ‘Are Dwivedis, Trivedis, and Chaturvedis related?’ or ‘Why do most Sindhi surnames ends with –ani?’ or ‘Why do some surnames have two capital letters?’, and more. And on that note, let’s get right into the history of name-calling.

Etymology of the Bachchan surname

Amitabh Bachchan’s family surname was Shrivastav. His father was Harivansh Rai Shrivastav. At home, Harivansh Rai was affectionately called Bachchan (bachcha in Hindi = child, bachchan = child-like in colloquial Hindi) while Harivansh Rai’s elder brother was called Rajjan. Post independence, Harivansh Rai gave up the surname Shrivastav to protest against the caste system in India – especially in Uttar Pradesh (Surnames such as Shrivastav tell you the caste of a person). Harivansh Rai went on to become a famous poet and writer and would use the name Bachchan as a pseudonym.

Inspired from his father, Amitabh Bachchan gave up the surname Shrivastav and took up the surname Bachchan. So yes, Bachchan is not an inherited surname and so it isn’t an old family surname that’s spread itself.

Is the surname exclusive to Amitabh Bachchan & Family?

However, its quite possible that a few others may have adopted the surname. That’s evident when you do a Facebook Graph Search.

What about the phrase Bol-Bachchan?

The phrase Bol-Bachchan, however, is not connected to the surname Bachchan. It comes from the terms Bol and Vachan – both of which mean the same thing i.e. Bol = Vachan = Words of Wisdom (when translated from Hindi to English). The term Bol-Bachchan is now used in the context of motherhood statements / platitudes, or someone who has uttered them.

To read all our stories on names, surnames, and nomenclature, click here.

Nimish Adani

I am the founder & CEO of Engrave. I started off in 2011 with a workshop that engraved photos for customers on to wooden plaques. Soon, we were making plaques, nameplates, canvas prints, decals and dozens of other products for thousands of customers. To help us make these items, we engaged a group of dedicated craftsmen. By 2015, 3 of our dedicated craftsmen had built their own workshops, employing between 6-10 people. By showcasing their skills on a digital platform, these craftsmen had turned into successful entrepreneurs. This success motivated me to transform Engrave in to a platform which could help thousands of Indian artisans and craftspersons - and this lead to the launch of the maker's market in 2015.


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