Zanjeer was the first of the seven films that Prakash Mehra and Amitabh Bachchan collaborated on.It changed a lot of lives. It turned around writers Salim-Javed’s , Amitabh Bachchan’s and Prakash Mehra’s careers. It redefined the screenplay for Hindi cinema. The comedy track was done away with, for once. The hero didn’t sing any song. He didn’t even smile in the film.
At the time when Zanjeer was being planned all of what Salim-Javed thought to be USPs in their script proved to be stumbling blocks. Many heroes refused Zanjeer. Dharmendra was the first hero it went to. Dev Anand and Raj Kumar also refused Zanjeer . Dilip Kumar felt that it didn’t jell with the kind of films he was doing. He felt there wasn’t much room for a performance for the hero.
However when I once asked Dilip Kumar which films he regretted not doing he mentioned Baiju Bawra, Pyaasa and Zanjeer.
Recalling the Zanjeer incident Dharmendra says, “It is true I was offered Zanjeer first. But I was promise-bound. A dear aunt of mine had some major differences with Prakash Mehra. She made me promise her that I would never work with him. And I never did.I am a very emotional man. I would give up a thousand Zanjeers for the sake of my loved ones.”
Dharamji is all praise for his colleague who bagged the career-making role. “It is all destiny. Amitabh was destined to do Zanjeer. Woh kehte hain na, daane-daane par likha hota hai khane wale ka naam. The same is true of roles. I wanted to play Anand in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film. But Rajesh Khanna played Anand. And I don’t think anyone else could have done Anand better . Likewise it is impossible to imagine anyone else but Amitabh doing Zanjeer.”
Recalling his good times with his colleague Dharamji sais, “Amitabh and I did three films together , I think. Of these Sholay was the milestone.We had so much fun shooting the film. On location, Amitabh was with Jaya.She was expecting Abhishek. Hema was there, Pataa hi nahin chala kaise film bann gayi. None of us imagined Sholay would be such a landmark film in all our careers.One never knows about the boxoffice. I thought my two films with director Vijay Anand Ram Balram and Rajput would be big hits.And my most favourite film Satyakam did not run.Like I said, it’s all destiny.”