Bringing together rivals, contemporaries, warring lovers or powerful actors requires a lot hard work from everyone, from the actor to the filmmaker. But when it does happen the cast adds a new dimension to the project and makes it talk of the town. Here’s a look at casting coups that made us flash our perfect pearlies, widen our kohled-eyes in surprise and gave sleepless nights to screenwriters.

She was a new model-turned-actress in the Hindi film industry. He was a star-kid starting his career as a filmmaker. But they never managed to work together. Karan Johar had approached Aishwarya Rai Bachchan thrice – Rani Mukerji’s role in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kajol’s role in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Two decades later, the twain will finally meet, for Dharma’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. And that is why Karan Johar’s next directorial venture – which happens to be the yummy mummy’s first film after motherhood – isn’t short of a casting coup.

The glistening cherry on the succulent pie is that the superstar director has roped in current generation’s rising superstars, Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma, along with the superstar diva in the contemporary triangular tale about love, heartbreak and relationships. With so many big names involved in the project, this film will definitely make cash registers jingle endlessly at the cinema halls.

Meanwhile something wow happened off screen too. The biggest superstars of tinsel town – Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan – were caught together on camera, chitchatting and goofing around on the same stage at the jubilation event of the long-standing TV show Aap Ki Adalat. Due to the stars’ hot and cold personal equations this piece of news got a lot of eyeballs. But it has given wind to an overenthusiastic producer’s wild imagination – of roping in the superstars together for a film. If that did happen, it would undoubtedly be the biggest casting coup in B-town. True, na?

So here’s look at the coming together of big names that made the tinsel town go ooh and aah!

Deepika Padukone, Salman Khan expected – Ali Abbas Zafar’s untitled movie

Not many know that it was Salman Khan who first hinted that Deepika Padukone, a model back then, had the potential to be a big film star. Since then it seems both share a mutual admiration society. And it seems their wish to star opposite each other will come true with Ali Abbas Zafar’s film which will be made under the YRF banner. With three powerful names involved we are certain that film fans are eagerly awaiting this one.

Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor – Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani

Perhaps, for the first time in Indian cinema real life ex-lovers had reunited just for a film. And it was primarily for the lead cast’s changed personal relation that Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani was a casting coup. Of course, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone whose acting careers were launched on the same day had become big stars when they signed the film. For so many reasons YJHD was a big deal. The credit for achieving the impossible goes to young filmmaker Ayan Mukherji, who convinced the actors to put aside their personal differences for professional pursuits. Interestingly Padukone and Kapoor will be seen again in Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha.

Katrina Kaif, Salman Khan – Ek Tha Tiger

Again, ex-lovers agreed to do a film together, which invited attention. But what made Ek Tha Tiger a bigger deal was that it was Salman’s first film for the illustrious banner, Yash Raj Films. To top it the spy-drama was helmed by Kabir Khan, whose realistic style of filmmaking was very different from that of the larger-than-life superstar’s idea of masala entertainment. Also, when the film was being made Katrina had become a big star, which demanded that the script do equal justice to both leads.

Juhi Chawla, Madhuri Dixit Nene – Gulaab Gang

Seldom have two actresses played equally powerful roles in a Hindi film. Obviously ‘coz it’s a screenwriter’s nightmare to write and sell a script starring female leads in the male-dominated industry. Perhaps that was the sole reason filmmaker Soumik Sen wanted to make a Western starring a lady protagonist and antagonist. Add to that, he roped in rivals, Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Juhi Chawla, to play the roles in Gulaab Gang. Both were the top leading actresses of the 90s with a strong undercurrent of competition. In fact, back in their heydays Chawla had turned down Karisma Kapoor’s role in Dil Toh Pagal Hai as it meant playing second fiddle to Dixit-Nene. Thus, Gulaab Gang became a casting coup.

Neetu Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor – Besharam

Casting a family of actors in a film is a mammoth task for a scriptwriter. It requires great storytelling skills to guise the actors’ personal equations with fictional characters. And when each actor is a colossal star, the writer has to ensure no one gets a raw deal. So when Abhinav Kashyap scripted a plot that was liked by Neetu Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor, it surprised everyone. Also, back in their younger days the senior Kapoors were called the golden couple who weaved magic every time they came together onscreen. And with their son in tow it was expected to be triple the fun.

Jaya Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Kajol, Kareena Kapoor – Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

During their initial days in the industry, Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan (then Bhaduri) delivered several hit films. But soon after tying the knot, the leading lady shifted focus to household duties and motherhood. Their last film together was Yash Chopra’s Silsila, again a casting coup. So it was a big thing when, two decades later, young filmmaker Karan Johar convinced Mr and Mrs Bachchan to reprise their real roles for an emotionally stirring family drama called Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Then there were Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor, which made it bigger.

Rekha, Jaya Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar – Silsila

Rekha, Jaya Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar were big stars. Yash Chopra was being touted as one of the best filmmakers of Hindi cinema. And the plot of Silsila was scarily similar to that of Rekha, Jaya and Big B’s personal lives. Rumours of an alleged romance between Rekha and Big B during their heydays have been an all-time favourite for gossipmongers. It is one mystery that refuses to die even after decades have passed. ‘Coz of the volatile star cast it becomes the ultimate casting coup in B-town.

Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan – Shakti

Filmmaker Ramesh Sippy wanted to redeem his image after the failure of the multi-starrer Shaan. So he turned down innumerable scripts till he read Shakti, a story revolving around a righteous father and his rebellious son. Given the powerful characters, he approached Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. It was speculated as an unsurmountable task due to huge egos involved. But to everyone’s surprise both superstars of their respective era immediately sad ‘yes’ to Shakti.

Undoubtedly these stellar casts added shine to the movies, which directly translated to increase in ticket sales at movie halls. But some of these casting coups didn’t exactly make the movie watcher go ooh and aah when they came on the big screen. Clearly in a few cases there was more smoke than fire.

– Rachana Parekh

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