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Ek Rishta: The Bond Of Love Turns 20 , Unknown Facts About This Mammoth Multistarrer



1.     Released  on May 18, 2001  Ek  Rishta: The Bond Love  was  the mother  of  all multi-starrers and the last  film to feature such a star-studded cast: Amitabh Bachchan , Raakhee Gulzar, Akshay Kumar, Karisma   Kapoor, Mohnish Behl, Juhi Chawla. The era of multi-starrers ended  with  this film. Producer-director Suneel Darshan’s   goodwill in the film industry, of which he had been a part   since 1988,  helped  him accrue this awe-inspiring cast.  With Akshay and  Karisma , Suneel shared a  long-standing relationship, They starred in  Suneel’s Jaanwar in 1999 the  film which put Akshay’s career in the league of  A-listers.

2.     Surprisingly the  most difficult  actor to convince  to come on board  was the mercurial Raakhee Gulzar. I had  to intervene to  convince her. “What will I do in  a film that  stars half the film industry,” she protested. You will be working with  Mr Bachchan again, I argued.  “I’ve already done 10 films with him,” she protested. She finally relented, and enjoyed the experience thoroughly. Raakhee Gulzar is  the  only leading lady with whom Mr Bachchan speaks in Bengali. “And very fluent Bengali,” says  Raakheeji. “During shooting I shared a unique bond with him. I know him from the time when he did a role in Sunil Dutt Saab’s Reshma Aur Shera.So my association with  him began with one Sunil(dutt) and  ended with  another (Suneel Darshan) .   I know the fun side of Amitabh which he keeps hidden from public view. He is a very funny guy, plays pranks and does a lot of masti. He  was  the same during Ek Rishta, although  we had last worked together  19 years earlier in Bemisal  and Shakti. Interestingly we were  not a pair in either of those two. In Bemisal I was paired with  Vinod Mehra . In Shakti I was  Amitabh’s mother. During shooting there was an unspoken bond with him.I admired Dilip Kumar and Rajesh Khanna as actors. But the kind of bonding I shared with Amitabh is unique to my career.I don’t know what it was because to this day I don’t know what acting is.We did more confrontational than romantic films together.Amitabh would rehearse his scenes secretly.  That’s because he was perpetually playing characters with personality traits that he did not possess. He played the Angry Young Man. But losing his temper was alien to him. On the other hand  I am very short-tempered and do angry roles easily.But if I was asked to sing dance and do romantic scenes I was petrified.”

3.     Akshay Kumar  who  co-starred  with Mr Bachchan  for  the  first time in Ek Rishtaa was petrified . “What  would it be like to face the camera with the God  Of  Acting?” Akshay kept asking me. I  told him he would have to ask God that. The  good thing about the hero-worship was that in  the  film Akshay  plays a son who is  so much in awe  of his  father that he  couldn’t even look him in  the eye. Since that’s exactly how Akshay  felt about ‘God’ it was easy to do the scenes. “Imagine if we had to play a buddy-buddy father-son pair,  like Shashi Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor in Kabhi Kabhie,” Akshay wondered with  terror writ large in his  voice.

4.     Juhi Chawla  was  most reluctant  to play  Amitabh Bachchan and Raakhee Gulzar’s daughter. No, she had  no  problem with either. But playing their progeny meant she had to play Akshay  Kumar’s  sister after playing his leading lady in a David Dhawan film. Juhi didn’t want to be  typecast as  the hero’s long-suffering behna.Also, while  Karisma’s  leading man  was Akshay, Juhi’s  leading man  was Mohnish Behl . Though that shouldn’t have been  a problem. Tabu played Mohnish’s wife  in  Sooraj Barjatya’s  Hum …Saath Saath  Hain. Finally Juhi was  convinced to  do the  role in Ek Rishta, though she  never again  played the sister.

5.     Suneel Darshan  did not  have  an easy time making this  costly star-spangled family drama. At  the  silver jubilee celebration  of  the  film Suneel took me aside and  confided that  there were elements  in  the film industry  trying to sabotage the film. Suneel had said “Many Bombay trade people were in a hurry to write off the film from day one. A very strong lobby has been operating against me from the moment I signed on Mr Bachchan to play Akshay Kumar’s father in Ek Rishtaa.I don’t know what this lobby has against me. Maybe they don’t like my bluntness. Also, there are very strong reactions from many sections of the industry against Akshay being cast in all of my brother and my films.” Now  Suneel looks back at  the Ek Rishtaa experience with  much affection: “Ek Rishtaa… is not just a movie.It goes much beyond and  emulates life… family, friends, associates, opportunities and  the footprints they leave back… It’s not just about my experiences, but as much a story of most lives.”

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