On August 28, 2012 this writer had reported that Sanjay Dutt would be playing the iconic Pathan Sher Khan in Apoorva Lakhia's remake of Prakash Mehra's Zanjeer.
At that time Dutt and his faithful team stoutly denied the reports and even accused the remakers of cashing in on his name prematurely. Dutt, we hear, was influenced by some of his friends and well-wishers against doing the film. Uncertain about the star's intentions, the makers of the new Zanjeer went and negotiated with Sonu Sood to play Sher Khan.
The combination of Sonu Sood who is a major force in Telugu cinema and Telugu superstar Ramcharan Teja made huge box office sense in the South. Sonu was supposed to do both the Hindi and Telugu versions of Zanjeer. He had even begun to work on his 'Sher Khan' look.
On Wednesday morning, the star finally signed on the dotted line and hopped on board to do the part. As for Sonu, he is still playing Sher Khan, but only in the Telugu version of the film.
Jubilant, director Apoorva Lakhia said, "I've worked with Sanju Sir before in Shootout At Lokhandwala and we hit it off immediately. I keenly wanted him to play Pran Saab's role in Zanjeer. I couldn't see anyone else from the contemporary actors playing Sher Khan. Now after many uncertainties, Sanju Sir is finally doing the role. I think this is the first time that he plays a Pathan. We'll give him a really striking look."
About Sonu Sood, Lakhia says, "Sonu is a fine human being and a gentleman. We can't possibly let him down. And we won't. He will be playing Sher Khan in the Telugu version of Zanjeer. Ramcharan and Sonu Sood are both names to reckon with in Telugu cinema. They'll be coming together in my film for the first time."
As for Pran's iconic Qawwalli 'Yaari Hai Imaan Mera' from Zanjeer, it won't feature in the new Zanjeer. "We're working on an entirely new Qawwalli and look for Sanju Sir," informs Lakia.
Adds producer Amit Mehra, "I can't tell you how excited I am about having Sanju Sir on board. It's a dream come true. I was just a kid when he worked with my dad (producer-director Prakash Mehra) in Imaandar and Mohabbat Ke Dushman. Sanju Sir used to take me and my brother on drives in his fancy wheels. We hero-worshipped him. And now to be working with him…wow!"
Adds Zanjeer's leading man Ramcharan, "We're all very happy to have Sanju Baba on board. Especially me. Sanju Sir and I met a few times recently in Hyderabad when he was here to shoot for the Hindi remake of Samy. We did speak about Zanjeer and how it was shaping up. I mentioned to him that the director Apoorva Lakhia was still searching for the perfect Sher Khan. Now I hear Sanju Sir is playing Sher Khan. Nobody except he could justify Sher Khan's personality to today's audience. I am glad we waited for Sanju Sir to play this character."