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25 years of Andaz Apna Apna: Writer Dilip Shukla recalls Aamir and Salman’s improvisation on set

The Rajkumar Santoshi film continues to have us in splits a quarter century after it was released.

Keyur Seta

Director Rajkumar Santoshi’s Andaz Apna Apna (1994) remains one of the most loved comedies in Hindi cinema. So much so that 25 years after it was released, it continues to have audiences in splits.

However, when the film was released on 4 November 1994, it did not meet with success at the box office. Dilip Shukla, one of the writers of the film and the man responsible for the hilarious dialogues, recalled those days in a conversation with Cinestaan.com.

Shukla said, “We thought maybe we didn’t think the right way. At that time only those working in the film were able to understand it as it wasn’t a regular film. It didn’t have a regular story and the characters were also never seen before. We started thinking what went wrong as everybody on the sets used to laugh, but you can’t predict how people [outside] would react. Sometimes you expect them to react at a particular punch, but they don’t.” 

The film revolves around Amar (Aamir Khan) and Prem (Salman Khan). Their fathers are fed up with the good-for-nothing young men who haven't a clue what to do in life but seek to marry Raveena (Karisma Kapoor), daughter of the super-rich Ram Gopal Bajaj (Paresh Rawal).

This is just the start of a crazy ride which includes Karisma (Raveena Tandon), Raveena's secretary and confidante whom Amar and Prem mistake for Raveena, Bajaj’s twin and gangster Teja (Rawal), Crime Master Gogo (Shakti Kapoor), Robert (Shehzad Khan) and Bhalla (Viju Khote).

Dilip Shukla

When the film failed at the box office, Shukla, Santoshi, the artistes and the rest of the team moved on and got busy with other projects. But as the years went by, Andaz Apna Apna began creating a sensation on TV and went on to become a cult favourite. This came as a pleasant surprise for the whole team. “When it started getting appreciated on TV, we felt the film had at last become successful,” said a pleased Shukla. 

The whacky humour, Aamir and Salman Khan’s chemistry, the unusually funny characters and the hilarious lines like "Teja mai hoon, mark idhar hai [I am Teja, here's the birthmark]" and "Aap purush hi nahin, mahapurush hain [You are not a man, you are a great man]" and the crazy climax continue to rule the audience’s mind.

Given the accolades the film has received over the past quarter century, Shukla considers it special. This was his first comedy, just as it was for Santoshi. “A writer is always eager to do different kind of films," Shukla said. "I am glad I got this film. It is a cult film which is liked even by today’s generation. It feels good to see the film have such a long life. It was made at a time when the humour and type of films made were different. Despite so many films being made in the comedy genre, people still consider Andaz Apna Apna special.” 

Shukla attended the entire shoot, including the outdoor schedules. He said Santoshi always took him to the sets of every film they did together, including Ghayal (1990) and Damini (1993).

An interesting aspect of the film is that much of the comedy in Andaz Apna Apna that today's audiences ROTFL was actually improvised on the sets. “The scripting and making were happening almost simultaneously at times," admitted Shukla. "We had left some scope for improvisation because the film itself was such. Aamir and Salman fit the characters of Amar and Prem perfectly and their chemistry was working well and they were also enjoying the work.”

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In fact, the entire process of making the film was more a fun activity than work for the team. “At that time we were all new and had each had one or two hit films," the writer said. "The rhythm was very good among the writers, the director and the rest of the team. Because of the humour in the film, we completed it having fun. In such an atmosphere, the humour came out well. Tafri karte karte film bani [The film got made as we fooled around].”

Speaking on how he thought up the hilarious dialogues, Shukla said, “Both [Amar and Prem] were dramatic characters who could say just about anything. That’s why we gave them such lines. This was well received by the audience. It is also a play with the language when we say, ‘aap purush hi nahin, mahapurush hain'."

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Shukla gives the director much of the credit for the end result. Highlighting his contribution, he said, “Rajji himself is very humorous and has great command of the language. The first credit for Andaz Apna Apna should go to him as this was his craft. Nobody can create humour the way he does. Plus, his humour is original.”

After Andaz Apna Apna, Shukla has gone on to write a few more Salman Khan-starrers in the form of Dabangg (2010), Dabangg 2 (2012), Jai Ho (2014) and the upcoming Dabangg 3 (2019).