When Yash Chopra told Amitabh Bachchan ‘I want you, Jaya and Rekha’, pulled off the biggest casting stunt with Silsila
Yash Chopra’s 1981 film Silsila is considered one of the pivotal films of mainstream Hindi cinema. The film’s subject of an extramarital affair was quite outrageous for the time and it was already raising eyebrows, but what drew them even more to the film was its cast – Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha. Rumors of a alleged affair between Bachchan and Rekha were doing the rounds at the time, which made the audience gossip even more.
In a 2012 conversation with Shah Rukh Khan, Yash Chopra revealed that it was not the original cast of the film. Initially, he cast Smita Patil and Parveen Babi in the lead roles alongside Bachchan. Smita was cast in the role which was eventually played by Jaya and Parveen as Rekha. “I had signed both Smita Patil and Parveen Babi and both had to start touring,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yash met Amitabh in Srinagar where the actor was filming for another role. It was there that the actor asked him if he was happy with the casting of the film. The veteran director hesitated but Amitabh pressed him. Yash finally confessed that his dream cast would be Rekha and Jaya Bachchan. “I told him I wanted to cast him, Jayaji and Rekha. He paused for a long time and told me he was fine with the decision but asked me to convince the two actresses,” recalls -he.
Director Deewar spoke to both actresses and, to his surprise, they immediately agreed. Yash mentioned that he spoke to all three of them separately and told them he didn’t want any antics on his set and that they promised the shoot would be hassle-free, and it was.
Yash added that he asked one of his assistants to convey his message to Parveen who was in Kashmir shooting another film. When he met her at the airport, Parveen was all for being recast as she thought he was doing the best for her movie. But Smita Patil was a little upset because Yash asked actor Shashi Kapoor to deliver his message to Smita. When Smita expressed his grudge, Yash humbly apologized for his mistake in throwing the blame to Shashi Kapoor.
Silsila was not fully accepted by audiences at the time, but in the years that followed the film developed a cult following.
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