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Interview Hindi

Director Rahul Rawail recalls how Betaab became Sunny Deol, Amrita Singh's launch pad

Marking 35 years of Betaab, director Rawail went down the memory lane and spoke about the film in an exclusive conversation with us. 

Keyur Seta

Actor Sunny Deol is most known for his action films and heavy dialogues. Interestingly, the actor started off his acting career as a romantic hero with director Rahul Rawail’s Betaab in 1983, which also launched actress Amrita Singh. 

Betaab was a runaway hit. The subject of a young man, from a humble background, falling in love with a girl from a rich family was not so outdated back then. The film was also helped by some hit compositions from legendary composer RD Burman. 

Betaab completes 35 years today (it was released on 5 August 1983). To celebrate the occasion, director Rawail went down the memory lane and spoke about the film in an exclusive conversation with us. 

The filmmaker finds it difficult to believe that it has been 35 years since the film was made. “The film is extremely special. It was a wonderful experience. I was glad that it became so successful. I had some wonderful people working with me,” he said. When asked if they were expecting the film to be such a success and be remembered even after all these years, he quickly added, “No, you can never expect such things.” 

Sunny's casting in the film happened quite simply. “Dharam ji [Dharmendra] had called me over and asked if I would like to do a film with Sunny. I said, of course, I will. It was a great honour for me,” Rawail recalled. This is not to say that Rawail signed Sunny only because of Dharmendra. “I definitely did find potential in him. I felt he was very innocent and honest. He was passionate about acting,” he informed.

Casting of Singh, however, was much more complex. “We were searching for a girl but we weren’t getting anyone. So, Ramesh Behl ji, the producer of the film who is no more, told me that he had met Rukhsana Sultana’s [a socialite] daughter in Delhi and praised her. I contacted her, met her and she became a part of the film,” he said.

The concept of Betaab came from a story Rawail had read when he was in school. “We were then discussing about the story. I had read a book when I was in school. It had a sequence which I loved. It was the scene where the hero and heroine's cars bang into each other. So, that was the idea I had. I thought it can be used for a film,” he shared. 

The idea was presented to Javed Akhtar who developed it into a script, and the rest as we all know, is history. “When we were thinking about the script, he [Dharmendra] said let’s take Javed [Akhtar] on board since he is very good,” Rawail remembered, “He was called and narrated the idea. He built on it and made it into a script.”

Even though Sunny and Singh were newcomers, Rawail didn’t feel the need for them to undergo special preparations. “We didn’t do any workshops. We used to keep interacting and discussing the script. This is how they got prepared. We started the shoot with the song ‘Badal Yun Garajta Hai',” he said. 

The music of Betaab is still remembered, especially the 'Jab Hum Jawan Honge' and 'Badal Yun Garajta Hai' tracks. Interestingly, the makers of the film had not given any briefs or instructions to Burman. “We had narrated the story to him and told him the situations. He just came up with the compositions [for the lyrics] which were written by [Anand] Bakshi ji and the music just became outstanding,” Rawail said. 

Not many know that singer Sonu Nigam was supposed to play the role of younger Sunny (name of Sunny Deol's character) in Betaab. However, that part was not included in the final cut. “The role couldn’t find a place in the film finally,” the director informed. 

Before taking his leave, Rawail revealed that even after 35 years, he, Dharmendra and Sunny still chat up about the film, “Sometimes while talking we do end up speaking on Betaab”.