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#CatchFlashBack: When Salim-Javed chose Amitabh Bachchan over Rajesh Khanna for Deewar

Himesh Mankad | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST

Intensity and drama, love and intrigue, loss and death... The 1975 blockbuster, Deewar, had all this and more. Of course, it also had the iconic dialogue 'Mere Pass Maa Hain', delivered with much dignity and gravitas by Shahshi Kapoor, while a laconic Amitabh Bachchan looked on.

The film had a run of over 100 weeks in theatres. It also set the precedent of a strong female character. In this case, Nirupa Roy, as the long-suffering yet morally strong mother. When Salim-Javed narrated the script of Deewar to Gulshan Rai (the producer) and Yash Chopra, the two felt that Rajesh Khanna was the right choice to essay the character of Vijay in the film. However the writer duo persisted and managed to convince them that Amitabh Bachchan was the better choice. And that's when the Big B bagged the role.

The writer duo did not just convince Chopra to cast Bachchan, they also explained why Rajesh Khanna was not suitable for any role in the film. They endorsed Amitabh Bachchan so vehemently that Yash Chopra asked them in a jocular manner, "Does Amitabh Bachchan pay you commission to recommend him?"

Also read: #CatchFlashback: How Salim-Javed found Bollywood its 'Angry young man', Amitabh Bachchan

The script and screenplay of Deewar was so well written that in one of his interviews, Yash Chopra had said:

"As far as the script is concerned, Deewar is better than Sholay...That was one script and screenplay where you didn't have to delete anything after making. Such a perfect script it was."

Deewar was initially planned as a song-less film. However, the producer felt that the same would make the film very 'dry' and insisted that the director add at least three songs. What happens with major commercial films in India happened with Deewar as well. The film opened with outright negative reviews. However, post its terrific performance, Salim-Javed were officially called the story kings of the Hindi Film Industry.

Also read: #CatchFlashBack: When Manmohan Desai thought Amar Akbar Anthony would flop...

It has been over 40 years since the release of Deewar, but the film still lives on.

Salim Khan (left) and Javed Akhtar (right) (File photo)

Of course that was not true. But it was a fact that Salim-Javed felt that it was ideal to rope in the legendary Bollywood actor for the film when they were writing the script. Having worked with Bachchan once in Zanjeer, the duo was convinced that no one but him should be cast in the film.

The success of Zanjeer and Deewar followed by Sholay resulted in transformation of Amitabh Bachchan to THE AMITABH BACHCHAN.

After Amitabh, Salim-Javed went with the script to Shashi Kapoor and sold the script to him on the basis of the iconic dialogue and promised him that even though the screen time is lesser compared to the lead, this role would fetch him a Filmfare award.

Also read: #CatchFlashBack: Hum Aapke Hain Koun was so huge that these facts will blow your mind

So Shashi Kapoor came on board and did go on to win the Filmfare award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Funnily enough, Deewar won the Filmfare award in all major categories including Best Film, Best Director, Best Story, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Dialogues. However, the man for whom Salim-Javed had actually written the character of Vijay, Amitabh Bachchan, did not win a single award for his performance!

Also read: #CatchFlashBack: When Bollywood nearly lost out on its lyrical genius Majrooh Sultanpuri

Watch the iconic confrontation scene from Deewar here:

First published: 28 May 2016, 6:59 IST
Himesh Mankad @himeshmankad

Himesh Mankad is an entertainment journalist who has a B.Com degree from Narsee Monjee College, Mumbai. He prefers covering Bollywood and loves good stories and music. When not watching movies, he can be found on a cricket field strutting his stuff.