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‘Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar are enemies for last 36 years’: What Subhash Ghai’s writer told him ahead of Saudagar casting

Late actor Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar played friends in the 1991 film Saudagar, which completes 30 years of its release today. But, before director Subhash Ghai brought them together, the two legendary actors didn't see eye to eye.

By: Entertainment Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 10, 2021 8:50:36 am
saudagar movie 30 yearsDilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar in Saudagar. (Express archive photo)

The on-screen bonds between actors are sometimes not as amicable in real life as they seem. Late actor Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar played friends in the 1991 film Saudagar, which completes 30 years of its release today. But, before director Subhash Ghai brought them together for the drama, the two legendary actors didn’t see eye to eye.

For over 30 years, Raaj and Dilip were each other’s nemesis. Dilip vowed never to work with Raaj after the latter slapped him too hard while shooting for a scene in Ramanand Sagar’s 1959 comedy-drama Paigham. Though the scene required Raaj to slap Dilip on the face, it was such a hard slap that irked Dilip. Since many in the industry knew about Raaj and Dilip’s animosity, they warned Ghai against casting them together for Saudagar.

saudagar movie Mukesh Khanna, Raaj Kumar, director Subhash Ghai and Dilip Kumar on the set of Saudagar. (Express archive photo)

Ghai, however, was adamant to have both of them in his film. “When I completed the script of Saudagar and was about to go to Dilip Ji to narrate it, my writer told me, ‘Do you know Dilip and Raaj are enemies for the past 36 years?’ I got scared. But I thought let’s try at least. When he agreed to do the film, I told him Raaj is his co-actor and ran away from his house, without giving him a chance to react. I didn’t go to meet for the next 5-6 days,” the filmmaker told Nation Next in an earlier interview.

Later, when Ghai went to Raaj Kumar with the script and asked who will be playing the role of his friend, he told him in a mellow tone, “Since I am not able to cast any big name, I am thinking of taking Dilip Kumar.” A few moments later, Raaj, to Ghai’s surprise, responded by saying, “Jaani, iss duniya mein hum apne baad kissi ko actor maante hain to vo hai Dilip Kumar. This role suits him. (Dear, if I consider someone an actor after myself, it is Dilip Kumar)”.

Elated with Raaj’s reaction, Ghai went to meet Dilip. To convince the Ram Aur Shyam actor for Saudagar, he told him what Raaj said about him, and Dilip agreed to do the film. But Ghai believes he can write a book on what happened on the sets of Saudagar once it went on the floor.

“Saudagar taught me to manage egoistic actors. I learned the trick of handling actors. You must treat them like kids. When stars are shooting, they are like kids who have many tantrums. So, treat them how a mother would handle her different children,” Ghai had shared.

saudagar movie Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar in Saudagar. (Express archive photo)

To make things smooth for himself and the team of Saudagar, the filmmaker “ego-massaged” Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar. He recalled, “I told Raaj, that Dilip Sahab is his fan. To Dilip Sahab, I said Raaj is his fan. Gradually, their differences narrowed, and they became cordial with each other. The scenes that you watch in Saudagar were actually going on between Dilip Sahab and Raaj and I was like a mediator.”

Besides Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar, Saudagar starred names like Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher, Gulshan Grover, Vivek Mushran, Manisha Koirala, Mukesh Khanna and Jackie Shroff, among others. The film’s clap was given by megastar Amitabh Bachchan at its mahurat in Mumbai.

Saudagar is currently streaming on ZEE5.

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