Mansoor Khan's Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is considered one of the best sports films in Bollywood. Inspired by the 1979 Hollywood film Breaking Away, the Aamir Khan-starrer, which released in 1992, is still loved by fans for its iconic characters, Jatin-Lalit's score, the Riverdale romance, and, of course, the nail-biting races. Apart from Aamir Khan, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar also starred Ayesha Jhulka, Pooja Bedi, Mamik, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Asrani, Deven Bhojani, Aditya Lakhia, and Deepak Tijori. Man Sings ‘Pehla Nasha’ at London's Oxford Street, People Vibe to His Melodious Voice (Watch Video).

Deepak Tijori's portrayal of the haughty Shekhar Malhotra remains among his best performances. In fact, it is arguably his best role and performance. However, not many know that he was not the first choice for the character in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. Other aspiring actors were considered for the role, including a certain Akshay Kumar.

Akshay Kumar himself confirmed this in an interview with Mid-Day in 2019, where he revealed that he had auditioned for Deepak Tijori's role in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. With refreshing honesty, Akshay admitted, "They didn’t like it (his audition). And, apparently, I was crap, so they removed me." Initially, Milind Soman was selected for the role, but after shooting for a few days, he walked out of the film, leading to Deepak Tijori being chosen. The rest is history.

Watch Akshay Kumar's Interview to Mid-Day:

Director Mansoor Khan also confirmed Akshay's audition for Shekhar Malhotra's role. Speaking to Bollywood Hungama, he expressed his hurt that Akshay thought he was rejected because they felt he was 'crap'. Mansoor explained, "At the time that we screen-tested him (Akshay), he was very, very wooden. He had a great physique. But that’s it. The way he has spoken about being rejected is very derogatory and condescending. Akshay had even called me after being rejected, saying, ‘Let’s work together.’ I never said he was crap." Perhaps Akshay took being called 'wooden'—an accusation he faced in his early career from both filmmakers and critics—as being 'crap'. Alaya F Recreates ‘Pehla Nasha’ With Mother Pooja Bedi on Valentine’s Day; Duo Gracefully Dance to the Iconic Song (Watch Video).

Despite this early setback, Akshay Kumar's career has dramatically transformed. From being a star with his Khiladi movies to finding a resurgence in his stardom in the 2000s and turning true-blue superstar with films like Namaste London and Rowdy Rathore and delivering back-to-back Rs 100 crore grossers, he has undeniably come a long way. Additionally, he won the (admittedly contentious) National Award for Best Actor for Rustom. That's the comeback every actor dreams of!

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on May 22, 2024 02:14 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website