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25 years of Saajan: Director reveals original choices for Sanjay Dutt, Nadeem-Shravan

Director Lawrence D'Souza gets candid on the film's 25th anniversary today (20 December).

Keyur Seta

Lawrence D’Souza’s Saajan is one of the most appreciated love triangles of Hindi cinema. Today, the film completes 25 years. Despite being released way back in 1991, the Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit film is remembered not only for its content but also for the music. 

In an exclusive chat with Cinestaan.com, D’Souza says he is unable to believe that 25 years have passed since the film released. “I feel the film had released recently,” he says laughingly.

The film remains one of Dutt’s most notable acts. However, he was not the first choice for the role. Interestingly, D’Souza had earlier approached Aamir Khan for the character. “My first choice were Salman, Aamir Khan and Madhuri. But Aamir refused maybe because I was a new director or something else; I don’t know. Before that, I was a cinematographer. We then spoke with Sanjay and he came on board,” he said. 

Dutt wasn’t hesitant to accept the film despite his character being lame and not heroic. “At that time, he had 2-3 hit action films. So, he was ready to do an emotional role.” D’Souza considers Aamir’s refusal a blessing in disguise. “The character perfectly suited him. I personally feel Aamir wouldn’t have fitted this much. As they say, whatever happens, happens for the good,” he said. 

This is how it became Salman and Dutt’s first film together. D’Souza informs that they mostly had fun on the sets. “They used to do masti masti masti the full day. This is how we shot. Even seconds before shooting a serious scene, they used to indulge in a lot of laughter. But the next moment they would shoot the scene seriously. Even I enjoyed shooting the film because of them.” 

There is an interesting story behind Saajan’s hit music too. The makers had earlier signed Laxmikant-Pyarelal. “I had a good rapport with Laxmikant. But as I was new then, they didn’t give us time. They used to give first preference to 5-6 big producers. I got fed up. It was too much to visit them daily and wait. My schedule was nearing but still had no songs ready.”

This eventually led them to sign Nadeen-Shravan. “They made us wait even after Sudhakar Bokade (producer) visited them. We left and straight-away called Nadeem. After I narrated the subject to Nadeem-Shravan, they provided me with seven songs in an hour,” he revealed. As they say, the rest is history. “Again, whatever happened, happened for the good. When your time is good, everything works out well,” D’Souza added.  

As we are in the era of sequels, D’Souza has a subject for Saajan 2 too. He discloses, “A lot of people asked me to make Saajan 2. But it won’t be fun if there are no big stars in it. I do have a subject for it and it’s very good. Let’s see what happens.” 

But is he ready to make a comeback to direction after 13 years? “I am currently planning my next film. If I don’t get big stars, I will make it with lesser known actors. But it will be a musical. I am planning to start it in 2017,” he signed off.