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14 Years of Race EXCLUSIVE: Ramesh Taurani reveals that Fardeen Khan was originally signed for Akshaye Khanna’s role; Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan were never approached for the protagonist’s part

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On March 21, 2008, the multi-starrer Race was released and it forever changed the idea of a suspense flick. Audiences were constantly on the edge of their seat as they were showered with twists every 10-15 minutes in the film. No one could predict what will happen next and it’s no surprise that Race emerged as a super-hit at the box office. Interestingly, it managed this feat despite the adults-only rating.

14 Years of Race EXCLUSIVE: Ramesh Taurani reveals that Fardeen Khan was originally signed for Akshaye Khanna’s role; Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan were never approached for the protagonist’s part

14 Years of Race EXCLUSIVE: Ramesh Taurani reveals that Fardeen Khan was originally signed for Akshaye Khanna’s role; Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan were never approached for the protagonist’s part

Bollywood Hungama recently caught up with Ramesh Taurani, the head honcho at Tips Films, who also produced Race. In an exclusive interview, he went down memory lane and talked about the film and a lot more.

How do you look back at Race?
Race is a very prestigious franchise. When we heard the story, we loved it immensely. Story sunn ke laga ki bahut bada banana chahiye iss film ko.

Race starred Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif and Sameera Reddy. Was this the original casting? Could you tell us about the casting process?
Saif Ali Khan was the first actor whom we approached. He loved the script but he was drawn towards the younger brother’s role (which was ultimately played by Akshaye Khanna). So, he told me that the role of Rajiv Khanna held a lot of promise for him. I told him that it’s upto him which role he wants to pick and that whichever character he opts for, I’ll cast the role of the older brother accordingly. He asked for a couple of days to think. 3 days later, he asked me if he plays the younger brother, whom will I cast for the role of Ranvir Singh? To which I said that I’ll cast an actor senior to him, someone like Akshay Kumar. Soon, he concluded that he’ll suit the role of the elder brother. I made it clear that what he’s thinking is correct as Ranvir Singh is the hero. I mean, both the characters are main heroes but Ranvir is the main protagonist.

Then, I approached Fardeen Khan. We even signed him for the younger brother’s role. However, at that time, he was also working on Sajid Khan’s Heyy Babyy (2007). Sajid at that point had Fardeen and Riteish Deshmukh on board. In fact, they were a part of the film ever since it was conceived 2-3 years before. The film finally rolled after Akshay Kumar was signed. Fardeen then told me that the dates of both Race and Heyy Babyy are clashing. He also informed that he has been committed to that film ever since it was conceptualized 3 years ago. I understand his dilemma and I told him that he should work on Heyy Babyy. Fardeen loved Race’s script, in fact. Lekin dil pe patthar rakh ke usko hamari film chodni padi.

Akshaye Khanna, meanwhile, was working on Naqaab (2007) with us. We narrated the script and agreed to do the role. Anil Kapoor then also joined the cast.

And what about the three actresses?
Bipasha Basu was there from the very start. She loved her part and moreover, she was never paired with Saif before. Katrina Kaif and Sameera Reddy also readily signed the film.

At that time, yeh teen heroines aa gayi. Aaj itna takleef hota hai teen heroines ko laane mein! Heroes aa jaate hai par heroines laane mein dikkat hoti hai. Hence, making a multi-starrer today is very difficult. Thankfully, things fell in place during Race.

As per IMDb, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Abhishek were approached for the role of protagonist Ranvir Singh…
We had never approached Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan. At one point, we had approached Abhishek Bachchan. However, it didn’t work out with him.

According to the IMDB trivia, Salman Khan was approached for the role of the antagonist…
No, that’s not true.

And were Priyanka Chopra and Sushmita Sen offered the role of Sonia, which was ultimately played by Bipasha Basu?
No. Bipasha Basu, as I said, was the original choice

Were you worried that Race will become too complicated for the audiences?
Usually, thrillers have a lot of action. This film had a lot of twists and turns. Audiences were not able to guess what would happen next. And that was the beauty and highlight of the story. I’d like to credit the writer, Shiraz Ahmed, for it. He had written a wonderful script and he continued his good work in Race 2 (2013) and Race 3 (2018) as well.

14 Years of Race EXCLUSIVE: Ramesh Taurani reveals that Fardeen Khan was originally signed for Akshaye Khanna’s role; Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan were never approached for the protagonist’s part

Saif Ali Khan said in an interview that you took all actors to party every night during the shoot of the film…
We shot extensively in Durban, South Africa. Usually, when we shoot outdoors, we get done by 6:00 or 7:00 pm. We had decided on a rule that everyone has to be back in the hotel by 9:30-10:00 pm so that we all can be on the time for the shoot the next day. Hence, we used to go for early dinners, at around 8:00 pm. All six actors and I used to hang out. The great part is that after a few days, Saif one day insisted that he’ll pay the bill. He was like ‘Mere producer hi kyun roz bill bharenge’. Then, one day, Akshaye Khanna took the initiative of footing the bill. Anil ji one day said ‘Dinner is on me’. So, we all became very close. We were there together for 45 days.

Saif, in another interview, revealed that he loved shooting for Race as director duo Abbas-Mustan would shoot only from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and that they hate shooting at night. Didn’t that worry you? If they would have shot at night, maybe the shoot could have got completed sooner?
A shoot can’t go beyond 10 or 11 hours. Actors would get tired and their performance and look then get affected. We can’t compromise when we are making such a big film. Moreover, the shoot went as per our plan. It’s not like we planned for a 45-day schedule and the shoot got extended by 10-15 days. Jaise plan kiya tha, shoot waise hi hua.

Race was awarded an ‘A’ certificate by the Censor Board. Many felt it was unfair…
We didn’t get time. We secured the certificate just a week before the release of the film. The Censor members had a reservation with a few dialogues. We didn’t have time to cut it out and then apply once again as we had to dispatch the prints. Hence, we had to accept the ‘A’ certificate. However, for the satellite premiere, we got the rating changed to U/A. Film mein Adult jaisa kuch tha nahi.

Did you visit cinema halls to check the audience reaction?
Yes, I always go to single screens and multiplexes. Logon ko film samaj mein aa rahi thi. The audiences were clapping and whistling in several scenes.

Were the critics appreciating the film or did they give a harsh review?
The critics were very happy with the film. We got a rating between 3 to 4 stars. Critics ko pasand aayi thi film.

Race emerged as a huge hit. It opened Rs. 6.32 crore and its lifetime collections were Rs. 60.83 crore, a huge amount for that time…
Race was then Saif’s biggest hit. It ran successfully everywhere in the country, in multiplexes as well as single screens. Saif used to ask me ki ‘Aap ko kya lagta hai. Film ka kya hoga’. And I used to tell him that Race would do well from East to West, from North to South, and even Overseas. He replied, ‘Aap bahut overambitious ho’ (laughs)! I maintained that I am very confident about the film.

Race’s success led to Race 2. Race 3, meanwhile, had Salman Khan. How do you look back at the third part? Despite the criticism, it was a hit at the box office…
Race 3 did a business of more than Rs. 170 crores. We thought it’ll do around Rs. 225 crores. Aur Salman Khan itna bada star hai ki uski film thoda bhi kam business karti hai, toh uski ninda zyada hoti hai. Nevertheless, for us and Salman, it’s a successful film. However, we realized that Race and Race 2 ka magic missing tha Race 3 mein. We’ll cover up for it in Race 4!

14 Years of Race EXCLUSIVE: Ramesh Taurani reveals that Fardeen Khan was originally signed for Akshaye Khanna’s role; Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan were never approached for the protagonist’s part

As per murmurs, Race 4 would star both Saif Ali Khan and Salman Khan…
Nothing has been decided as yet as the scripting is still going on. Once the script is locked, we’ll take a call.

Who’ll direct Race 4?
Even that hasn’t been decided yet. We’ll wait for the script to be finalized. Even during Race 3, we had first locked the script and then we got Remo Dsouza on board.

You said in the beginning that getting actors for a multi-starrer is difficult nowadays. Are you prepared for the struggle you’ll face in getting the star cast for Race 4?
Yes, for sure. Race is a big brand and even the actors love the franchise. So I am sure we’ll be able to successfully cast the right actors for Race 4.

Tell us about your association with Salman Khan. You have a lot of fondness for him. Your WhatsApp DP also has you and Salman! You even gave the title of Sultan when the star asked for it…
Salman Khan is like a family. We know each other since Patthar Ke Phool (1991) days, that is, since 1989. Hence, our friendship is very deep. Jab bhi hum chahein, hum unke ghar jaa sakte hai aur woh hamare ghar aa sakte hai (smiles).

As per reports, you also plan to make Soldier 2
If we got a good script, we’ll make the sequel. We have asked the writers to let us know if they come across a good idea.

And what about Ishq Vishk 2?
Uski bhi baatein chal rahi hai. Nothing has been finalized as yet.

Which are your other films?
We are making Gaslight (starring Vikrant Massey, Sara Ali Khan and Chitrangda Singh). Its shoot is going on currently. And we are also producing Sriram Raghavan’s Merry Christmas (starring Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi).

Will it release on Christmas and clash with Tiger Shroff’s Ganapath? A week after Christmas, Salman Khan’s Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali is up for release as well…
Yes, that’s fine. Ab Merry Chrismtas naam ki film Christmas pe nahi aayegi toh kab aayegi?!

Also Read: Mumbai vaccination racket: Ramesh Taurani of Tips Industries says 356 of his employees yet to receive a certificate

More Pages: Race Box Office Collection , Race Movie Review


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