Alia Bhatt has always considered Shah Rukh Khan “very charismatic”. So, last month, when she was roped in to act opposite SRK in director Gauri Shinde’s next, it was a dream come true for Alia. But soon after the news came out, naysayers raised eyebrows at their unconventional pairing. At that time, Alia had told us, “I’ll stay quiet. I’ll let the film do the talking.”
Gauri’s film is not alone. Several other movies are exploring such unusual casting options.
While Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will be seen with Irrfan Khan in Sanjay Gupta’s next, Akshay Kumar has been paired opposite Nimrat Kaur in Airlift. TV actor Sakshi Tanwar has been cast opposite Aamir Khan in his next while Kangana Ranaut is set to work with Saif Ali Khan and Shahid Kapoor in Vishal Bhardwaj’s next.
Kareena Kapoor Khan will share screen space with Punjabi star Diljit Dosanjh in Abhishek Chaubey’s forthcoming directorial venture.
While such unusual pairings get people talking, do they also affect box-office collections? “Not really. They add to the curiosity level. When I was casting (for my film), I just wanted to surround Ash with as many talented actors as possible. What matters is the film’s strength,” says Sanjay.
Interestingly, even actors are kicked about such experiments. “One of my biggest reasons for doing the film was Aishwarya. I was looking forward to working with her. I am okay with being sidelined,” says Irrfan.
Experts say that casting should do justice to the essence of a film. “Unusual or not, casting must be true, in spirit, to the storyline. For audiences, too, what matters is the ultimate presentation. Look at Cheeni Kum (2007), Amitabh Bachchan’s casting with Tabu turned out to be a masterstroke that could have looked bizarre initially,” says exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi.