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Dharmendra On The Real Reason He Said No To Zanjeer




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 ZanjeerWoh 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.”

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