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Shatrughan Sinha ‘paid the price for stardom’: Looking back at his friendship and feud with Amitabh Bachchan

Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh Bachchan shared screen space in films like Dostana, Kaala Patthar and Bombay to Goa.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
Updated: December 9, 2021 11:42:29 am
Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh BachchanShatrughan Sinha is celebrating his 76th birthday today. (Photo: Express Archives)

Shatrughan Sinha starrer Kalicharan released on February 7, 1976. 20 days later, Amitabh Bachchan’s Kabhi Kabhie hit theatres. While Amitabh added another hit under his belt, it was Shatrughan’s first major hit as a lead actor. Prior to Kalicharan, the actor had played supporting roles in several movies in early 1970s, many also featuring Big B like Parwana and Bombay to Goa.

With his personality, baritone and dialogue delivery, Shatrughan soon grabbed attention. The actor’s popularity was on the rise but it also led to cracks in his friendship with Amitabh.

amitabh shatrughan dostana Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh Bachchan in a still from Dostana.

In his memoir Anything But Khamosh: The Shatrughan Sinha Biography, Shatrughan Sinha revealed that due to Amitabh Bachchan, he returned the signing amount of several films. “The problem was the applause I was getting for my performances. Amitabh could see the response I was getting. That’s why he didn’t want me in some of his films.”

“During Kaala Patthar, a heroine who was known to be very friendly with him, would visit him. She would come during Dostana also but not once would he bring her out and introduce her to any of us. In showbiz, everybody knew who was visiting whom. The media would immediately know if Reena was in my make-up room. Such things can never be hidden in our world,” Shatrughan added in his biography, mentioning that Zeenat Aman or Rekha deepened the rift.

amitabh bachchan shatrughan sinha Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh Bachchan with Gulzar. (Photo: Express Archives)

Another reason for his fallout with Amitabh, many claim, is the fact that some major films which proved to be hits in Big B’s career like Deewar, Sholay and Satte Pe Satta were first offered to Shatrughan. Though Shatrughan rejected the claims while speaking to TOI early this year, he added, “Perhaps the makers, at some point, realise that some other actor would be better for a role, or at times I couldn’t have taken a film due to date issues, which was the case with Sholay. I think the character of Jai was one of the last ones to be cast. Ramesh Sippy was very keen that I do it, but I just couldn’t accommodate the film. Such things don’t spoil relations.”

While Shatrughan had previously revealed that he fell out of favour with another good friend Rajesh Khanna because he contested against him in a by-election, his love-hate relationship with Amitabh has remained a talking point for years now.

Talking about the fallout earlier this year, Shatrughan Sinha said that “It’s the price you pay for stardom”. The actor said he had nothing against Amitabh Bachchan. “I have only love and regards for him. Yet if someone asks, I say: Chhodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat purani. Naye daur mein likhenge milkar nayi kahani (Don’t talk about the past, let’s begin afresh).”

But can we ever forget the two superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha sharing screen space in iconic films Dostana and Kaala Patthar? What these two have given us will remain etched in fans’ memories.

Happy birthday, Shatrughan Sinha!

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