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When Bhansali Wanted to Cast Child Alia

By SUBHASH K JHA
February 26, 2022 10:52 IST
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IMAGE: Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Alia Bhatt. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bhansali Productions/Instagram

If fate had willed, Alia Bhatt's first movie co-star would have been Aditya Narayan, singer Udit Narayan's talented son.

Aditya started his career as a child actor in films like Jab Pyar Kissise Hota Hai.

He was all set to play the lead in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie at the age of 10, with Alia Bhatt as his co-star.

Bhansali was make a love story about child marriage entitled Hamari Jaan Ho Tum. It was based on Rabindrnath Tagore's short story Samapti, which introduced Aparna Sen on screen as part of Satyajit Ray's 1961 trilogy, Teen Kanya. It was also the source material for Sudhendu Roy's 1971 film Uphaar where Jaya Bhaduri played the child bride.

 

IMAGE: Bhansali and Alia on the sets of Gangubai Kathiawadi. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bhansali Productions/Instagram

Bhansali had auditioned many children and zeroed in on Aditya and Alia.

"They were magical together," Bhansali tells Subhash K Jha.

"Both were natural born actors and raring to go. But we couldn't make the film. Now, it is too late. I can never find my perfect leads to play the child bride and groom."

Incidentally, the title song of Hamari Jaan Ho Tum, composed by Bhansali, showed up in Saawariya where Ranbir Kapoor made his debut.

Hamari Jaan Ho Tum is not the only Alia starrer that Bhansali had to shelve.

Two years ago, he was all set to make Inshallah with Alia and Salman Khan.

This project was unceremoniously dropped due to excessive interference from Mr Khan. Among other things, Salman wanted Sushmita Sen and Daisy Shah to be a part of Inshallah.

 

Photograph: Kind courtesy Kareena Kapoor/Instagram

Another project that Bhansali dropped was Bajirao Mastani with Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan.

Kareena never really got a chance to work with Bhansali even though they came really close to it several times.

Right after the success of Hum... Dil De Chuke Sanam, SLB decided to make Devdas with Kareena Kapoor as Paro and Madhuri Dixit as Chandramukhi. Kareena's costumes were ready, but overnight, SLB changed his mind and signed Aishwarya Rai instead.

Kareena felt betrayed and humiliated. I'd like to think I played a hand in the patch-up.

At that point of time, I was very close to SLB and Kareena. I called them both to the airport to receive me. They smiled at one another. The ice melted.

All three of us were soon yapping together for the rest of the evening.

Soon after, SLB wanted to make to a film on Mahatma Gandhi's troubled relationship with his son Harilal.

'What do you think of Kareena as Kasturba?' SLB asked me one day.

I was all for it.

That project was taken over by Anil Kapoor, who produced the film with Akshaye Khanna as Harilal.

IMAGE: Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela.

After this, Kareena was signed to play Mastani opposite Salman's Bajirao. I was there at the photo-shoot and Kareena looked stunning.

This project was ruined by Salman when he got in touch with Priyadarshan and offered himself and Kareena as a pair of Priyan's Kyun Ki.... To this day, we don't know why Salman ruined the exclusivity of the Bajirao Mastani pair.

After this, SLB wanted to work with Kareena in Black. But Mr Bachchan vetoed the idea.

Then came Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, which SLB wanted to do with Ranveer and Kareena. But he wanted Kareena to give him a large number of dates, which she was not ready to commit to.

"During the time Sanjay wants, I can do three films," she reasoned with me.

Deepika Padukone stepped in and Ranveer fell in love with her.

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SUBHASH K JHA