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Danny Denzongpa Reveals Why He Said No To Gabbar Singh



Danny Denzongpa

By now  everyone knows Danny Denzongpa was the  first choice to  play the  villain Gabbar Singh in  Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay. Then what happened?

Danny Denzongpa clears the air once and  for all. “It was  because  of a prior  commitment and my word of honour  that I had to let   go of Sholay.  I had signed  Feroz Khan’s  Dharmatma before   Sholay and the dates were given to Feroz Bhai. I knew the Gabbar character was fabulous but my  conscience guided me to take the  right decision.”

Danny doesn’t regret  losing  out on Gabbar.  “I have no regrets at all.If I had done Sholay we would have  missed seeing all  the  wonderful performances of a wonderful actor called Amjad Khan.”

 One  recalls the great actor  Pran saying no to Manoj Kumar’s Shor  as he was  already playing a  Pathan  in  Zanjeer at  that time.

Recalls Danny, “Pran uncle was keen not to repeat himself. After  being typecast as a villain,two movies he produced which were directed by his son Tony Sikand had me playing the  bad guy and he played  positive characters in both the films”

 Danny says  he has  always been selective. “My colleagues who came in with me have done 600-700 films.My average remains three years per year.From the start I had decided not to do too many films simply because I find it very difficult to shoot during the summer in Mumbai.There are many reasons why I say no to a role.”

  Danny remembers  how difficult  it  was  for  him to  get roles because  of  his  looks. “It was very difficult. I couldn’t get any films, so I went back to the Pune Film Institute where my teacher,the very king Roshan Taneja got me a job as an acting instructor .I used to help the newcomers with acting tips all week.On Fridays I used to go from Pune to Mumbai looking for acting assignments. I’d struggle the whole of Friday and Saturday and then go back to Pune on Sunday.This went on for almost three years.”

How did the first acting offers come your way? “I started my career with a bit role in Gulzar’s Mere Apne.Then I got the second lead in  B R Ishaara’s Zaroorat. It was my third film B R Chopra’s Dhund which actually established my acting career. I had a fantastic role in that film. Luckily all these films were to work with people I am know and I am comfortable with.I feel I’ve always had to choose from a very limited range of roles. Writers and directors are struck with a particular image of mine. I sometimes do roles that I’m not fully convinced about because of many factors.”

Among his  films which are  the ones Danny is the  proudest of?  “I did a Bengali film Lal Kuthi. I had a very good role in that. The story and screenplay were written by me, though I didn’t take any credits. Then I love my role in another  film called Bandhu released in 1992. That film was later turned into a television serial called Ajnabee.I also  liked my roles in  H S Rawail’s Laila Majnu ,Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 1942: A Love Story and Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Ghatak. But the one film that I am really fond of is Shivaji Chandrabhushan’s Frozen. I loved shooting that movie in Ladakh.We shot at minus-30 degrees in February. It won many international awards.  Then there was of course Mukul Anand’s Agneepath.I fitted the character of  Kancha Cheena. However Agneepth was not a boxoffice success when it was released.”

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