Amar Akbar Anthony is 46 years old and it is as new as it always was. It was a nonsensical, mind-boggling comedy with Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor leading from the front. Everything about that film is precious to us. It was dipped in dollops of 70s masala entertainer tropes with one exception. A commercial potboiler with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead had an art-cinema genius Shabana Azmi as Khanna's love interest. 43 Years of Amar Akbar Anthony: Amitabh Bachchan Reveals How This Film's Box Office Performance Easily Beats Baahubali 2’s Records.
Amar Akbar Anthony became a huge success which obviously benefitted everyone in the cast, right? Wrong! Azmi can't say the same. In an old interview with Rediff, Azmi reflects, "I did that film because I thought it would be a big success and it would be good for me. It was a big success but it didn't do any good for me. People asked how Shabana Azmi could work in a film like that." She realised that even if she opted for a potboiler, she would have to do a meatier and author-backed role because that's what is expected of her.
But what is even more interesting is how Shabana Azmi got the movie. Speaking to Mumbai Mirror, she revealed that Manmohan Desai (the director) came to here one day and said, "Shabbo, I’m producing a film, usmein there is no khaas role for you, magar woh Vinod Khanna meri jaan kha jayega ki why is there no heroine opposite me when both Amitabh and Rishi have’. Toh you please do the film for me!" Shah Rukh Khan Addresses Pathaan Controversy, Compares Himself and John Abraham, Deepika Padukone to Characters of ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’.
Obviously, Shabana Azmi said yes! The rest is history. But this made us wonder what if she had said no and Desai convinced Vinod Khanna to go without a heroine in Amar Akbar Anthony. The climax song wouldn't have been as fun!
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 18, 2023 08:10 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).