This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
The much loved film, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, completes 20 years on December 14, 2001. Directed by Karan Johar, this film is remembered even today for many reasons, one of the major ones being the star cast. With Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor Khan in the lead, Karan Johar pulled off this mammoth casting coup, which is unimaginable in today’s times. In his book ‘An Unsuitable Boy’, he revealed how he got all the actors on board. And believe it or not, all were signed on the same day!
At the onset, Karan explains why he desired to have so many mainstream actors in a film, “I was obsessed with the image of having six stars on a poster. Like Kabhi Kabhie (1976) had an array of stars. I was a huge Yash Chopra fan and I wanted a poster that had a host of stars on it!”
SHAH RUKH KHAN AND KAJOL
Both played the leading actors in Karan Johar’s first film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and they had a deep bond with the filmmaker. When Karan told Shah Rukh about the idea, he was on and Karan mentions that he was “completely cooperative and supportive”.
As for Kajol, Karan Johar wrote that he was apprehensive if she will sign the film as she had then gotten married to actor Ajay Devgn. Rumours were going around that she was not interested to act in films anymore. Nevertheless, Karan Johar decided to meet Kajol and clarify. However, he had a plan B in place. He confessed, “I had actually decided that if Kajol said no, I’d straight go to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.”
However, all his fears were put to rest. After Karan narrated the role and the film to Kajol, she told him “Listen, I can’t say no to you. I cannot not do this. I’ll die if you sign another heroine”. Karan was touched obviously and to quote him, “She’s a very possessive girl, and she loved me.”
HRITHIK ROSHAN AND KAREENA KAPOOR KHAN
Hrithik Roshan was already a star by the time Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was released, thanks to the super success of his debut film Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (2000). However, fans would be shocked to know that Karan had signed Hrithik for his film before Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai was released, and even without watching the rushes of his debut movie!
Karan knew Hrithik for a long time since he was a close friend of Uday Chopra. Karan, meanwhile, used to hang out with Uday and his brother, Aditya Chopra a lot. He was aware that he was gearing up for a career in acting. Karan wrote in the book that he bumped into Hrithik at Manish Malhotra’s store. Instinctively, he offered him the part of the younger brother of Shah Rukh. Hrithik could not believe his ears and KJo assured him that he‘d narrate him the script soon.
Two days later, Karan Johar saw Kareena Kapoor Khan at a party. Again, her debut film Refugee (2000) had not even been released. However, Karan concluded she was apt because according to him, “The way she stood in that party, it was as if she had already released five blockbusters. She had that attitude which I wanted my character Poo.”
Karan Johar’s father, producer Yash Johar, had reservations about casting them. He told Karan, “Why Hrithik? He has not released his first film. Kareena ki kitni film release hui hai? Take someone more established.”
However, Karan was adamant and told Yash Johar, “Have faith. This is the correct cast.”
AMITABH BACHCHAN AND JAYA BACHCHAN
The 2000 drama Mohabbatein was a turning point in Amitabh Bachchan’s career. However, when Karan was casting for Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, the Aditya Chopra-directorial had not even been released. However, Big B’s TV show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ had become a nationwide craze and the mega star was looking for the right script. At this point, KJo went to meet him at his residence and offered him Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Amitabh jumped at the opportunity and was immediately on.
Karan Johar then exited his house and called Jaya Bachchan. He asked her if she could do his film. If you are wondering, why Karan didn’t just talk to Jaya after speaking to Big B instead of leaving the house and then calling her, Karan has given a justification for it. He reasoned, “I didn’t want to approach them as a couple. I wanted to approach them as two entities.”
Nevertheless, Jaya Bachchan seemed happy with the role and the movie and signed on the dotted line.
“Signed all of them on the same day”
Karan Johar revealed that his meeting with Kajol happened after he met Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan. After meeting the Bachchans, he met Kareena and she agreed to come on board. He spoke to Shah Rukh in between and kept him abreast of the developments. In between, he also called Hrithik that he is indeed a part of the film.
Karan then stated, “I signed all of them on the same day, all six of them. I wish it was as easy today, to sign six movie stars for a film in one day. But it’s not possible, not for anyone.”
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