The action music entertainer, Soldier (1998), completed 25 years on Monday, November 20. Bollywood Hungama exclusively spoke with producer Ramesh Taurani about the film, its original casting and a lot more.
25 Years of Soldier EXCLUSIVE: Ramesh Taurani reveals that Kareena Kapoor was first choice for Preity Zinta’s role: “Babita ji declined citing, ‘Kareena bahut chhoti hai’; Karisma didn’t sign due to issues with regard to her fees”
How did you get the idea for the film?
This was a time when we were producing 3-4 films. Bobby was very hot. He had signed two films – Barsaat (1995) and Gupt (1997). The music of both the movies was with our company (Tips). At that time, Bobby was not even launched and yet, he had become a sensation. There was an immense craze among the public and the industry to sign him. I told Sunny (Deol) that we wished to sign Bobby. He asked us the details. We told Abbas-Mustan to narrate the subject. We loved it and we approached Bobby who also loved the story. However, his dates were not free. So, we decided to wait till he completed the shooting of Barsaat and Gupt.
As per a trivia on IMDb, Dharmendra wanted Sunny Deol to play the lead in Soldier…
This is not true. Neither Dharam ji nor Sunny had heard the story. Dharam ji was very happy that Tips and Abbas-Mustan were making a film with Bobby.
Was Preity Zinta the first choice?
She was not the first choice though she was a lovely girl. I had met Babita Kapoor ji and expressed the desire to sign Kareena. She declined citing ‘Kareena bahut chhoti hai’. Kareena was just 16 years old then. I tried to convince her that it’s a big project and big names are associated with it. But she remained adamant since she was keen that Kareena should complete her education. Hence, I suggested that we’d like to Karisma Kapoor then. We couldn’t sign Karisma as we couldn’t reach common ground with regard to her fees.
Bobby, meanwhile, was keen to have Preity on board. I also had her in my mind, but I was apprehensive about having two newcomers in a film. Abbas-Mustan decided to meet her once. They met her and were very happy. They told me ‘Issi ladki ko film mein lete hai’. They assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem. This is how I signed Preity Zinta. However, whatever we paid her for Kya Kehna (2000), we paid half of that amount in Soldier. I explained to her that Soldier is an expensive film and it won’t be feasible for us. She happily agreed.
And was Bobby Deol paid the same that he was paid in Gupt and Barsaat?
Barsaat toh unke ghar ki picture thi. In Gupt, I don’t know what were his fees. So, I can’t comment.
I believe after Major Saab (1998), Soldier was the second Hindi film to be shot in Australia…
For five years after the film’s release, the Sydney Harbour Bridge used to be called ‘Soldier Bridge’. The tourists who used to flock to Australia would demand ‘Humko Soldier Bridge pe jaana hai’!
Was there a subsidy in those times?
No, there wasn’t. Our dates were in April and May. This is the time of summer in Australia and that appealed to us. The idea was to show a foreign country. We could have shot it in London, UK as well. But London used to be very cold then until June. Now, it’s different. The weather improves from April but that wasn’t the case 25 years ago. Moreover, you don’t get proper light in that season in the UK. And that’s crucial when you are shooting outdoors for 12 hours.
Did you face difficulty in getting screens since Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan were running successfully?
No. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan were released on October 16. Hence, we decided to release on November 20, that is, five weeks later. The date was pre-decided. Moreover, we had the rights to the music of Kareeb which came in July. We were clear that we needed a gap between these two films.
Did you visit cinema halls to check the reactions?
Yes, I did. We went to Maratha Mandir, Gaiety-Galaxy and a few more theatres. I asked Bobby to join me. He said, ‘Mujhe bahut darr lagta hai. Main nahin aaunga’ (laughs)! So, I and Preity went. Bahut accha laga tha response dekh ke. People were whistling and clapping on certain dialogues and scenes. They were also dancing during the songs.
A lot of people were reminded of Soldier when they saw Shah Rukh Khan’s recent release Jawan. It also had the ‘baap-ka-badla’ angle, the hero initially seems like an anti-hero but then turns out to be a positive character etc…
See, there are only 6-7 plots in Hindi cinema. If you want to have an emotional angle, the hero’s problems have to be very personal and family oriented. So, this is not a big deal. Baazigar (1993) mein bhi hero baap ka badla leta hai. And Soldier came after Baazigar. But the presentation of both films was poles apart and the same goes for screenplay.
It has been reported that you plan to make Soldier 2 with Bobby’s son Aryaman. Bobby, however, has said that he’d like to once again reprise the role in the sequel if it’s made…
Well, Bobby’s son is very young. We don’t even have a script. Once we have a subject in hand, we’ll decide whom we’d like to cast.
After the blockbuster success of Bobby’s brother, Sunny Deol’s Gadar 2, do you think the demand for Soldier 2 is even more now?
Not just now. People have been telling me for 2-3 years that ‘Make Soldier 2, Make Soldier 2’. But we can’t make the film until we get a script that does justice to the brand.
More Pages: Soldier Box Office Collection
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