The 1997 film Pardes was a commercial, critical and musical hit starring Shah Rukh Khan and new comers Apurva Agnihotri and Mahima Chaudhary. It was released on 8 August 1997.
The romantic drama, which completed 20 years in August, was showcased at Mumbai’s New Excelsior Cinema, which was recently acquired by Mukta A2 Cinema, a branch of Subhash Ghai’s Mukta Arts, on November 5.
Prior to the show , the man behind the camera, Subhash Ghai, talked about the making of this superhit revealing the facts that had he bowed down in front of the producers, viewers would have got a different Pardes – starring Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit. There were many challenges that the director faced during the making. But no doubt, he overcame them all and gave us a blockbuster movie.
Because of the flop of Trimurti , the producers backed out of another huge budget film ‘ Shikhar ’. As a result, Ghai thought of writing a “simple, non-ambitious story” and that’s how Pardes happened.
“The journey of Pardes was very interesting. It wasn’t supposed to be made. Shah Rukh and I were actually supposed to collaborate on Shikhar, a film with war in backdrop. Jackie Shroff was also signed for it. We had even done the mahurat for it. But Trimurti failed. And how the norm of the industry is that you are only known by your last hit or flop, so, people didn’t have faith in Shikhar”.
“We had to drop it and then I decided to write a female-centric, grounded story, and that’s how Pardes happened. Then, I called up Shah Rukh and he immediately said yes though he was sad that Shikhar was shelved. Shah Rukh was very excited about Shikhar, but it was his desire to work with me in actor-director capacity that he said yes to Pardes” Subhash Ghai says.
Another challenge that Ghai faced was related to the casting . Producers wanted to bring together Shah Rukh Khan , Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit for the lead role, so to make it a big film and cover the losses of ‘Trimurti’. But Ghai didn’t agree and decided to launch new faces . He chose Apurva Agnihotri for the role of Rajiv, an NRI and Mahima Chaudhary as Ganga .
“My office wanted me to make the film with Salman, Madhuri and Shah Rukh because then it would be a big film and losses of Trimurti would be covered as well. They were right too. But the director in me wasn’t convinced that we need such a big star cast”.
“I said three big stars wont go well in the script that I have. I wanted someone who looked like he has come from foreign for the NRI part. It was a big challenge but I finally managed to get Mahima, Apurva and Shah Rukh,” he said.
“After several hits, Trimurti was Mukta Arts first flop. When a film flops, the industry is quick to write you off. I decided to write a film in my own style. When the script was over, we were discussing the casting, which was a big problem. My production house thought Shah Rukh could be in the film along with Salman, playing an NRI, and Madhuri would play the central character”.
“I had narrated Gangas character to Madhuri during Khalnayak too. But I wanted newcomers paired with Shah Rukh. His Trimurti had flopped and DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) had worked, so I knew he was a great performer” Ghai said.
Ghai said another challenge for him once the cast was locked was to present Shah Rukh in a non-romantic role.
“Shah Rukhs image had turned romantic after DDLJ but this role wasn’t romantic at all. The challenge was to tell Shah Rukh that he wont be like a romantic hero in any shot. Till the end, there was no hero-heroine romance. It was a wonderful thing” he recalled.
No matter what , Ghai didn’t give up and filmed one of the epic love stories in the history of Bollywood.