When Dharmendra revealed that Amitabh Bachchan got Sholay because of him: 'Chalo bechare ko de do'
- Dharmendra once revealed that Amitabh Bachchan got the role of Jai in Sholay because he'd put in a good word for him.
The role of Jai in the hit film Sholay was originally supposed to be played by Shatrughan Sinha, but due to a variety of factors, including Amitabh Bachchan asking Dharmendra to put in a good word for him, Shatrughan wasn't hired.
In an interview, Dharmendra admitted that he played a role in the hiring of Amitabh Bachchan, and said that he was talking about it publicly only because Amitabh himself had thanked him.
Asked if this story is true, Dharmendra said in an appearance on Aap Ki Adalat in 2018, in Hindi, "I've never spoken about this, but since Amitabh has started saying that I helped him get the role, I'll say it: yes, I did help him get the role. He used to come to me... But originally, the role was going to go to Shatrughan Sinha."
He said that Shatrughan Sinha even spoke to him about why he suggested Amitabh's name, and Dharmendra told him, "Yaar, kuch samajh nahi aata, woh pehle aaya, socha chalo bechare ko de do (I don't know, he came to me first and I thought the poor guy should get it)."
A 2015 Scroll report provided more context. "As his films continued to flop," the article said about Amitabh, "roles became scarce." It continued, "Ramesh (Sippy, director) toyed with the idea of signing on Shatru but finally decided that he was too big a star. Three mega-watt stars translate into mega-watt ego problems. Ramesh had seen both Bombay to Goa and Anand, and was impressed by Amitabh’s talent. Meanwhile, Amitabh had also asked Dharmendra to put in a word. The lobbying worked. Amitabh was cast as Jai."
Shatrughan, earlier this year, attributed it to scheduling issues. He said in an appearance on Indian Idol 12, "During those times, I was continuously shooting for films which had two heroes and, somehow, we can call it a human error or my dates were an issue due to which I couldn’t sign the film Sholay. I’m sad but happy at the same time as due to Sholay, national icon Amitabh Bachchan, who is my dear friend, got such a big break."
Sholay, which also starred Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan, Amjad Khan, Sanjeev Kumar, remains one of Hindi cinema's most successful and celebrated films.