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Showman’s superstar dream

Director Subhash Ghai had planned an ambitious war film with three of the biggest Bollywood superstars — Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan — but had to shelve it.

  • Published 22.11.17
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Subhash Ghai with Shah Rukh Khan on the sets of Pardes

Director Subhash Ghai had planned an ambitious war film with three of the biggest Bollywood superstars — Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan — but had to shelve it.

He even had a title for the film, Mother Land.

“In 2003, I wanted to start a war film called Mother Land, where I had cast Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. The script was ready and three songs were also recorded, but at the last minute Shah Rukh backed out,” Ghai told PTI. The filmmaker, who has worked with Shah Rukh in the 1997 hit Pardes, said the superstar wanted a solo-hero project back then and hence the dream project could not go on floors.

“He (Shah Rukh) felt there are so many characters in the film. He wanted to do a solo hero film then, but mine was not. It was a story of Dilip saab, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh. On my wish list were also Aishwarya Rai, Preity Zinta and Mahima Chaudhry for the film but that’s destiny,” he said.

Mother Land did not take off but there was another film, Shikhar, that Ghai had planned to make with Shah Rukh. However, that also got shelved, and instead came Pardes. “Before Pardes I had designed a film called Shikhar, staring Jackie Shroff and Shah Rukh, where we were to cast a new girl. It was a love story with a war backdrop. We had done our mahurat too and recorded a song after signing A.R. Rahman,” he said.

“Ishq bina kya jeena yaaro was a song from Shikhar (which eventually became one of the most popular songs in Taal). But when Trimurti (1995) released and flopped, the media and distributors said, ‘How could you give a flop after 10 hits? You better retire!’”

The phase put Ghai and his team in confusion, as they decided to scrap the ambitious war film. “My team thought since Shikhar was a very big war film with huge investment, let’s make a small budget movie. I thought let’s make a small film, which happened to be Pardes, shoot within a year and come back to Shikhar later,” Ghai said.

After Pardes became a hit, Ghai moved on to Taal (1999). The 72-year-old recently showcased Pardes at New Excelsior Cinema, acquired by Mukta A2 Cinema, a branch of Ghai’s Mukta Arts.