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Why Did Gina Lollobrigida Opt Out Of Krishna Shah’s Shalimar?



Gina Lollobrigida 

The  legendary Italian actress  Gina Lollobrigida  who  passed  away  on January 16 ,came really close to doing an Indian film before she backed  out, for reasons that are not clear to  this  day.

Shalimar which was completed and released  in 1978, boasted of an international   and national  cast: Dharmendra, Zeenat Aman, Shammi Kapoor,Rex Harrison(of My Fair Lady fame), John  Saxon(of Enter The Dragon)…and above all, the legendary sex symbol Gina Lollobrigida.

Gina   flew down  to Mumbai for  the grand Mahurat  of  Shalimar. Pictures  of her with Zeenat Aman and Dharmendra  were duly splashed  all over the papers.

But  when  Shalimar went on the floors, there was  no Lollobrigida in the cast.

What  happened? The  rumours floating at  that time  whispered at the cold vibes  between Gina  and  Zeenat which the  latter denies  completely.  Many  insiders say the film’s publicist Bunny Reuben masterminded(read: manufactured)the  whole rivalry between the two gorgeous sex symbols. In Reuben’s book on the making  of Shalimar there  is even a chapter devoted  to the  Zeenat-Gina  rivalry, distastefully entitled  ‘The Battle Of  The  Boobs.’

However  the  film’s leading man Dharmendra  recalls  no  such rivalry, or the reason why Gina opted  out.  “Initially she  was  in the film. Then she  was replaced  by Sylvia  Miles.”

Lucky escape,I say. Shalimar was  a god-awful caper  film, poorly scripted,  oafishly directed and with every actor including the legendary Rex Harrison hamming  to the hilt.

The  film’s only redeeming factor was  R  D Burman’s music. Kishore  Kumar’s Hum bewafaa hargiz na tthe(with an obtrusive  tribal beat), Lataji’s  Aaina wahi rehta hai,  Usha Uthup’s  One two cha cha cha and Asha Bhosle’s Mera pyar Shalimar were far superior to  the  film.

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