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Monday, January 24, 2022

When Shakti Samanta convinced Amitabh Bachchan to do a Bengali film: ‘Show your sasuraal…’

On Shakti Samanta's birth anniversary, here's looking back at some of the anecdotes associated with the celebrated filmmaker.

By: Entertainment Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: January 13, 2022 7:24:53 pm
Shakti SamantaShakti Samanta once recalled how he got Amitabh Bachchan to do a Bengali film (Photos: Wkipedia/ Instagram/ Amitabh Bachchan)

Filmmaker Shakti Samanta made a mark in Bollywood cinema with several films, including Amar Prem, Howrah Bridge, Kashmir Ki Kali, and Kati Patang. His filmmaking and storytelling belonged to the 60’s and 70’s, considered the golden era of Bollywood. There are many anecdotes associated with him, especially his conviction to cast the stars of that era in his film. He had a jovial sense of humour and that echoed in his interviews. During the shooting of Bengali film Barsaat Ki  Ek Raat, he told Amitabh Bachchan, “You’ve never worked in a Bengali movie. And your wife is Bengali. Show your sasural you can speak Bengali, and he agreed.”

However, one of his most well-remembered films is Aradhana, which starred Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. The film shot Khanna to superstardom, and was loved for its songs, especially Mere Sapnon Ki Rani, which was song by Kishore Kumar.

In an old interview, Samanta recalled how he got Kishore Kumar to do playback for the film. He and SD Burman had initially intended Mohammed Rafi to sing the playback songs, who was unfortunately on foreign tour at the time. “He wasn’t going to come back for two months. So I requested Dada that Kishore Kumar has sung so many songs in Dev Anand films. This is Rajesh Khanna, a new artist, and his voice hasn’t been established. So Dada agreed. Kishore came and sang two or three songs, and those were very well sung. Dada told me I was right, and we realised Kishore Kumar’s perfect for Rajesh Khanna as playback singer.”

Another film that became a classic, was Kati Patang, which starred Asha Parekh. He wanted Sharmila Tagore again for the film at first, but she was pregnant at the time.  He recalled how everyone knew her as a glamour girl, and so he decided to make her ‘something different’. So he told Asha Parekh and she immediately agreed. Asked how he convinced his leading ladies to play their roles, “I think I was lucky. What I thought and conceived, I got that. You know Madhubala never went out of Bombay for shooting. But I took her to Nagarjun Sagar, which is in Andhra Pradesh. She played a coolie, and I told her that she had to remove her slippers. And she did it, willingly—in that hot rocky place.” He also recalled how Madhubala used to recall for the film unit, and said the cast and crew were like a family.

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