Who’d have ever thought it would be hard to find an actress to cast opposite Salman Khan? The makers of the actor’s new film Sultan—Gunday director Ali Abbas Zafar and producer Yash Raj Films—are reportedly going around in circles trying to find the right leading lady for their ambitious action film, which has already been slotted for an Eid 2016 release. After Kangana Ranaut famously said ‘No thank you’ to the offer, the makers are believed to have zeroed in on Parineeti Chopra and Sonakshi Sinha. But Sonakshi, who made her debut opposite Salman in Dabangg, it seems was more inclined towards another film from the same banner. She will likely star opposite Aashiqui 2’s Aditya Roy Kapur in Kill Dil director Shaad Ali’s Hindi remake of Mani Ratnam’s most recent (Tamil) love story Ok Kanmani.
That leaves Parineeti Chopra, who is said to be ‘very interested’, but there may be the issue of clashing dates. According to Bollywood insiders, Parineeti has more or less committed to starring opposite her Shudh Desi Romance co-star Sushant Singh Rajput in the Neeraj Pandey-directed Mahendra Singh Dhoni biopic, and right now it appears that the shooting schedules of both films will overlap. If Parineeti is able to sort out that niggling issue, there’s a good chance she’ll land the part opposite the Bajrangi Bhaijaan superstar in what could well be his next blockbuster.
Promising Power Shift
But why only Salman? Another major superstar whose next film is also reportedly facing casting problems is Hrithik Roshan. Dhoom 3 director Vijay Krishna Acharya (aka Victor) and Yash Raj Films want to pair Hrithik opposite a heroine he hasn’t worked with before, and they are believed to have approached Deepika Padukone. But—lo and behold—the Piku star politely declined. Turns out she wasn’t over the moon when she read the script and her role in it.
It’s a big indication of the power shift in Bollywood, and the clout that A-list leading ladies like DP and Kangana Ranaut now enjoy. A welcome change, some would say, from the days when actresses were tripping over each other to do movies opposite the big male heroes even if they had nothing much to do in them apart from showing up for song sequences.
Instances like these clearly point to the reality that actresses are becoming more discerning. Why star in a film opposite a 50-year-old Khan or an Akshay Kumar or an Ajay Devgn or a Hrithik Roshan—especially if there’s no role to speak of—when you can make a movie opposite Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan, Shahid Kapoor, Sidharth Malhotra and the like? After all, the younger lot are routinely delivering hits too. And working with them doesn’t add screen-age like working with the older superstars inevitably does. Just look at poor Kareena Kapoor, Katrina Kaif and Sonakshi Sinha, each of whom worked prolifically with the senior superstars… and now they’re finding that filmmakers would rather cast Alia Bhatt, Shraddha Kapoor or Kriti Sanon opposite the younger heroes.
A Mismatch of Signature Styles
A top producer who’d signed a red-hot director to helm the desi remake of a foreign language crowd-pleaser has reportedly changed his mind. The director, who was reportedly affronted by the producer’s volte face, is believed to have confronted him about his decision, enquiring whether it was the failure of his latest film that caused the sudden loss of faith. The director’s last release—a romantic melodrama—tanked at the box-office, recouping only a fraction of what the studio had paid to acquire it. Furthermore, the failure ended the director’s lucky streak at the box- office; he was at the time riding on a high, having delivered back-to- back hits in quick succession.
Sources close to the producer reveal that his decision to separate the director from the project stems purely from the fact that he doesn’t think the light- hearted comedy matches the director’s signature style. He still has faith in the director, but would rather he make something that’s more up his street. He has also already paid him a generous signing-on amount, so there’s no question of calling off the deal.