Sholay is a film that lives rent-free in our minds and hearts. Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra’s bromance, as Jai and Veeru respectively, was among some of the best friendships we have seen on the silver screen. But did you know it was their off-screen friendship that saw them star alongside each other?
Both the leading men of the Ramesh Sippy directorial have spoken up about it. During a past conversation, the Apne star got candid about the same. Read on to know how he helped AB in getting the role originally meant for Shatrughan Sinha.
During his 2018 appearance on Aap Ki Adalat, Dharmendra was asked if the news of him playing a pivotal part in getting Amitabh Bachchan the part of Jia in Sholay was true. Responding to the host, the He-Man said in Hindi, “I’ve never spoken about this, but since Amitabh has started saying that I helped him get the role, I’ll say it: yes, I did help him get the role. He used to come to me… But originally, the role was going to go to Shatrughan Sinha.”
Dharmendra further added that Shatrughan Sinha even spoke to him and inquired why he suggested Amitabh’s name for the role. The Sholay actor said he told him, “Yaar, kuch samajh nahi aata, woh pehle aaya, socha chalo bechare ko de do (I don’t know, he came to me first and I thought the poor guy should get it).”
A 2015 Scroll report gives more insight into how Amitabh Bachchan actually became part of the hit Ramesh Sippy directorial. The site reported that “Ramesh toyed with the idea of signing on Shatru but finally decided that he was too big a star. Three mega-watt stars translate into mega-watt ego problems. Ramesh had seen both Bombay to Goa and Anand, and was impressed by Amitabh’s talent. Meanwhile, Amitabh had also asked Dharmendra to put in a word. The lobbying worked. Amitabh was cast as Jai.”
Earlier this year, during his appearance on Indian Idol 12, Shatrughan said that he didn’t land the role in Sholay owing to scheduling issues. He said, “During those times, I was continuously shooting for films which had two heroes and, somehow, we can call it a human error or my dates were an issue due to which I couldn’t sign the film Sholay. I’m sad but happy at the same time as due to Sholay, national icon Amitabh Bachchan, who is my dear friend, got such a big break.”
Do you think Shatrughan Sinha would have made a better Jai than Amitabh Bachchan in Sholay?