For the first time, Shabana Azmi's sister-in-law Tanvi Azmi plays Big B's wife in Aarakshan. Earlier Shabana Azmi had played the Big B's leading lady three decades ago in Main Azaad Hoon. All subsequent attempts to bring them together in recent years, including Rituparno Ghosh's take on Satyajit Ray's life-story, failed.
At that time a mutual friend of Shabana and Big B had commented, "Their kundalis don't match on screen. Shabana and Amitabh are essentially two very strong actors and personalities who are unable to complement one another on screen. It's unlikely they will ever be seen together again."
Ditto the other actresses who match the Big B's aura and personality, namely Sharmila Tagore, Dimple Kapadia and Madhuri Dixit. All attempts to bring Big B together with these divas just fell through.
Looking for a screen-wife for Amitabh Bachchan has become increasingly difficult. The number of saleable senior actresses who can work with him is seriously limited.
Says a source, "The one actress who matches Big B perfectly on screen is Jaya Bachchan. And she won't work with him unless the role is substantial. For the same reason Big B's successful pairing with Hema Malini in Baghban and Babul couldn't be carried forward. The heroines who match his age personality and talent seek to share equal screen space with him."
A hunt is on for ladies of stature to match Big B. In Aarakshan, Big B's better-half is played by Tanvi Azmi. It's a first for the co star-challenged Bachchan who seems to be having a great time shooting with his new leading lady in Bhopal.
Says a source from location, "Mr. Bachchan has worked with Tanvi's mother the yesteryears' actress Usha Kiron in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Chupke Chupke. There was instant bonding between them."
Says Prakash, "We needed a face that wasn't over-exposed to play Bachchan Saab's wife. In her entire career, Tanvi has hardly done a handful of films. She plays Bachchan Saab's wife and is there throughout the film. We're happy we cast Tanvi because we didn't want to fall back on the tried-and-tested co stars for Mr. Bachchan."
Earlier Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra had cast Nandita Das opposite the Big B in Aks. The Bachchan's family friend Romesh Sharma had actually got the Tamil actress Revathi over to co-star with Big B in Dil Jo Bhi Kahey. After Tanvi Azmi in Aarakshan, it is expected to be Meryl Streep in Balki (Paa)'s next.