Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was a brilliant film in all respects and its praiseworthy how Aditya Chopra got the casting right. Not just the main leads – Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol – but even the supporting cast played a very important role in the film’s success. These characters have become so close to people’s hearts that it’s difficult to imagine any other actors playing these characters.
Hence, it was a surprise to read about some of the unknown trivia revealed by Aditya Chopra about the film’s casting in the book ‘Aditya Chopra Relives…Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, written by Nasreen Munni Kabir. In this book, the writer-filmmaker has revealed that for the role of Kuljeet Singh, the original choice was Armaan Kohli. He was the son of filmmaker Rajkumar Kohli and he was launched in 1992 with Virodhi. He was then seen in more films but he wasn’t doing well as a leading man. When Aditya Chopra offered him this part, he got excited. But Aditya at this point made it clear to him that if he had ambition to be the leading man, then he should not sign for this part. Armaan Kohli hence opted out. Meanwhile, Aditya Chopra spotted Parmeet Sethi at a holi party at Amitabh Bachchan’s house. He was offered this part and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge became his debut vehicle.
For the role of Preeti Singh, Aditya Chopra said, “I needed someone who is sexy in a Punjabi way, but doesn’t look sultry and who has certain vulnerability about her.” He zeroed in Pratibha Sinha, daughter of Mala Sinha who was then an upcoming actress and popularly known for her appearance in the song ‘Pardesi Pardesi’ in Raja Hindustani. Aditya Chopra felt that she was a good actor though her films were flopping. However, Pratibha Sinha found the role quite small and turned it down. Finally, Aditya approached Mandira Bedi, who he saw in the television serial ‘Shanti’. According to Aditya, she “made her a sweet and sparkling character who we would remember”.
For the role of Chukti, Aditya Chopra was very particular about his demand. He made it clear that despite being too smart for her age, Chutki shouldn’t come across as a caricature, like the kid actors in other films. In Aditya Chopra’s words, “Hindi cinema has the most irritating kids on earth”! He wanted to avoid that and that’s what he instructed Pooja Ruparel, who essayed Chutki. Calling her “gifted, natural and intelligent”, Aditya was happy to know that she understood her part very well.