Amitabh Bachchan

  1. Shatrughan Sinha, Jwalamukhi, India, 1980. Bachchan was not free, so the rôle of Rajeesh  went to his Bollywood rival of the hour, Sinha. 

  2. Rajesh Khanna, Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar, India, 1983.    Just when you’re waiting for a satire about corruption in Indian poplitics, three come along…  Director Dasari Naryana Raohe had to rush the remake his 1983 Telugu political satire, MLA Yedukondalu, after Dilip Kumar passed on the eponymous rôle. Rao turned, of course, to Bachchan (and wanted to cast his wife as his screen spouse). But Bachchan was in one of the other projects.   Rao ultimately turned to the star of the  huge Avtaar hit (which also had him wed to Shabana Azmi) and  he gave his village barber entering politics the same character name and adding Avtar to the new title.  Didn’t help. All three movies (the others were Yeh Desh and Bachchan’s Inquilaab) flopped. Director Rao had played the role in his first version.  (Chaplin also played a barber  in his 1939 satire, The Great Dictator).

  3. Shashi Kapoor, Utsav, India, 1984.    Change of heart by The King of Bollywood, a poet’s son once thought too dark-skinned for Hindi cinema. He finished, with Raj Kapoor, as the two giants of Bollywood.

  4. Anil Kapoor, Meri Jung, India, 1985.     Originally, Ramesh Sippy was going to direct the story as Shatranj, with Bachchan and Amjad Khan in the roles chosen by director Subhash Ghai for Kapoor and Amrish Puri.
  5. Anil Kapoor, Mr India, India, 1987. With a title like that, the lead had obviously been concocted for Amitabh – especially for his distinctive voice (when his character turns into titular invisibility). However, the superstar didn’t fancy the idea of being… not seen.
  6. Jackie Shroff, Parinda, 1989.     Hanging around for certain actors to become free – or not – meant the film took three years to complete.
  7. Jackie Shroff, King Uncle, India, 1993.    Three years earlier, Big Awas director Rakesh Roshan’s inevitable choice as the millionaireindustrialist ruling his family like a tyrant. Thatversion never flew and by now, he was giving movies a rest after too many flops.
  8. Sanja Dutt, Mission Kashmir, India, 2000.     Amitabh and Shah Rukh Khan had to pass on the lead roles due to shooting the more romantic Mohabbatein.  
  9. Om Puri, Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai, India, 2003.      No thank you… The Big A’s fims worked even if he was just the (very Orson Welles) narrator. (Indeed he read the credits of Bawarchui, 1972).
  10. Shatrughan Sinha, Aan: Men at Work, India, 2004.      Amitabh was – again, obviously – first choice for the senior police inspector. Ami would be first choice to play Juliet! However, The Big A was already involved in eleven other films that year! One because the director Madhur Bhandarkar wanted all his stars’ names to begin with A… ! Amitabh, Ajay Devgan, Akshay Kumar, Atul Kulkarni, Amrish Puri.. and the Big B’s future daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai.

  11. Aamir Khan, The Rising: The Ballad of Mangal Pandey, India, 2005.     Veteran director Ketan Mehta first tried to mount the epic of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny in 1988 – with Amitabh as Sepoy (infantryman) Mangal Pandey of the army of the East India Company that ruled the entire Indian sub-continent… one fifth of humanity!
  12. Sanjay Dutt, Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi! India, 2005. Director Mahesh Manjrekar first attempted to make the film in 1995 – with Amitabh (like who else?) as God, or a God called Yama – giving Sanjay Dutt’s rich Adi Chachu a second chance in life. A decade later, Dutt was promoted to the deity with Shahid Kapur as Adi.
  13. Suman, Sivaji, India, 2007. After director S Shankafr lost two of his previous stars, Raj and Aishwarya Rai, to busy schedules, the casting of Sivaji began to match that of a Bond film. Seven stars jostled for the titular gangster’s moll, six more for the major dance number, two for the crook’s “Mama” (Uncle, actually)… and five guys fought for Adisesha – from Nana Patekar to the mighty Ami. By 2008, King Bachchan had made 175 films in 39 years… the only actor working harder than French hulk, Gérard Depardieu: 172 films in 41 years.
  14. Irrfan Khan, Hisss, India/US, 2009.    Bachchan must have known what would happen… Director Jennifer Lynch (David’s daughter) disowned her third film, when the Bollywood co-prod was “taken away” from her and re-edited from a love story to a horror vehicle. Penny Vozniak’s Australian 2012 docu, Despite The Gods, tells all. (In his 2007 comedy, Sunday, Khan parodied Bachchan).
  15. ‘Chiyaan’ Vikram, Raavanan, South India, 2010.    Bachchan, who plays the warlord Beera in the Hindi version, Raavan, 2010, was due to be Dev in the Tamil production – a language he was not overly fluent in. The two films were shot simultaneously which tends to explain the heart attack of director Masni Ratnam, 54. Bachchan’s Hindi character kidnapped his real wife, Aishwarya Rai – as the Tamil Dev, he would have been her husband. Vikram tackleed both roles in the differing versions.
  16. Danny Denzongpa, Endhiran/The Robot/Robo, India, 2010. The dream project of director S Shankar since 2001 when Kamal Hassan was set for the double role of scientist Dr Vasigaran and his creation, the robot, Chitthi… falling in love with co-star Aishwarya Rai. Next: Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Ajith Kumar came – and went. Finally, Shankar made it as not just Tollywood’s but India’s priciest movie, $35m (double Bollywood’s Blue budget), with costumes, stunts, SFX by the Batman, Matrix, Jurassic Park teams, locations in Austria, Brazil, Peru, USA! Bachchan, Arjun, JD Chakravarthi and Narayan were previously sought for Bohra.


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  16