MUMBAI: Shamitabh starring Dhanush and Amitabh Bachchan was named so originally because Balki wanted Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan in the lead roles and the title was an amalgamation of their names. However, that didn’t work out and Dhanush stepped in SRK’s role. The title still worked because it was Dhanush-Amitabh.
But wait, the film which releases this Friday is set in the film industry and has a large array of directors—Anurag Basu, Raj Kumar Hirani, Karan Johar, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Mahesh Bhatt and Gauri Shinde — making guest appearances. Even Rekha makes a cameo as herself. Though Balki is not telling how and where the super-diva appears, insiders insist Rekha is part of a crucial episode of the plot.
Abhishek Bachchan has too done a cameo in the film. The story goes, he had come visiting his dad on the sets of Shamitabh and insisted on being part of a crowd scene. Says Abhishek, “It all started with Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham where I sauntered into a shot. Karan edited me out. I played a character in ‘Salaam Namaste’, ‘Neal ‘N’ Nikki’, ‘Ek Ajnabee’ and even ‘Home Delivery’ where I was barely visible for a few seconds. All these small characters were played for the sake of dear friends.”
This is Balki’s third feature film, and his third with the Big B and music composer Ilayaraja. It’s unlikely Balki would make a film without Bachchan or Ilayaraja in the near future.
The Big B plays a cranky, churlish tantrum-throwing actor. To remain in character, he was constantly in a bad mood while shooting.
The idea for Shamitabh came to Balki when he was stuck in the traffic while heading to the Bachchans’ residence for the Big B’s 69th birthday bash.
Dhanush was the second choice for his character. Shah Rukh Khan was offered the role and in fact the film’s title came from the acronym of Shah Rukh and Amitabh Bachchan. But SRK didn’t work out.Sigh!
Akshara Haasan was chosen out of a list of 76 hopefuls. Balki was looking for someone who was innocent and yet sensuous, spontaneous and yet seductive. Balki has never introduced any actor before.
Shamitabh is the first Indian film to be shot in Lapland, Helsinski. It was so freezing cold the camera lenses had frozen ice on them. One more reason for Bachchan to remain in a bad mood during the making of the film.