Did you know Hrithik Roshan was paid less than Preity Zinta for Mission Kashmir
By casting Hrithik Roshan in Mission Kashmir, director Vidhu Vinod Chopra took a huge risk. The decision was made mostly because at the time, Hrithik had yet to make his film debut, and he ‘came cheap’.
The making of Mission Kashmir, and all the behind-the-scenes drama that unfolded, was documented in Suketu Mehta’s 2004 book Maximum City. On Hrithik’s birthday, here’s the story of how he became an overnight sensation after the release of his debut film, Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, which resulted in ‘near riots breaking out’ over him.
Originally, Shah Rukh Khan was supposed to play the role of Altaaf in the film, while Amitabh Bachchan was cast as Inayat Khan. But when both Shah Rukh and Amitabh dropped out in order to do Mohabbatein together, Vinod cast Hrithik and Sanjay Dutt instead.
“If Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, Hrithik’s debut film, flopped when it released, so, in all probability, will Mission Kashmir,” wrote Suketu, who also contributed to Mission Kashmir’s script. But Vinod saw rushes of Hrithik’s work and made the decision to cast him in his film, which released only a few months after Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai.
And the gamble paid off. “A phenomenon has been observed in theatres where Hrithik’s first film, a love story, has been showing: young women faint when he comes into the frame. They have been fainting all over India and abroad too...” Suketu wrote. “Near riots are breaking out over Hrithik.”
The book noted that Hrithik, who had signed on to Mission Kashmir for ₹11 lakh ( ₹4 lakh less than the film’s female lead, Preity Zinta), ‘is now asking for and getting ₹2 crore per picture from other directors’. “I can’t sleep, I am delirious,” Hrithik was quoted in the book as saying.
The success off Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai prompted changes in Mission Kashmir’s script, with Hrithik, who was number three in the star list, was suddenly elevated to number one. Suketu was asked to write a ‘truly heroic climax for Hrithik, in which he, not Sanjay Dutt, took centre stage’.
On set, Suketu reported, Vinod dressed Hrithik in tank tops. “I want something that shows the most skin. They thought there was skin in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, we’ll have much more,” the director said.
Suketu, however, didn’t neglect to mention the hardships that Hrithik had to overcome to reach where he had. “The boy slaved for five years as an assistant director, eating bad food, sleeping in tents on location, and then in one week became the biggest star in a country of a billion people,” he wrote.
And two decades later, his star hasn’t diminished. Hrithik in 2019 delivered two back-to-back hits in Super 30 and War. And just like it was back then, he has become a hot commodity once again.
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