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How Ameesha Patel replaced Kareena Kapoor in Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai: Anniversary special

The filmmaker reveals why Kareena Kapoor had to leave the project and how he met Ameesha Patel just days before the shooting began.

Keyur Seta

Along with Hrithik Roshan, Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000) turned out to be a dream debut for Ameesha Patel as well. But it is not known to many that the film was supposed to be the launch vehicle for Kareena Kapoor Khan, but that did not happen.

With the film completing 20 years today (it was released on 14 January 2000), director Rakesh Roshan shared the story with

“I had signed Kareena Kapoor,” said Rakesh Roshan. “She also worked with me for two days. But then some misunderstanding took place between her mother [yesteryear actress Babita] and me and I had to say I won’t take her [Kareena Kapoor] in the film.” 

The film was about to go on the floor, but Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai had no leading lady! “My set was ready. It had been erected. My production guy called and asked if they should remove the set. I said no, wait, you all continue. Only four or five days were left for the shooting [to begin],” the filmmaker recalled. 

That was when he met the late Congress politician and barrister Rajni Patel's granddaughter Ameesha in an unexpected manner. “I had gone to attend a wedding at the Brabourne Stadium,” he said. “I met my friend Amit Patel here. He was with me in boarding school. His daughter is Ameesha. She was also there. I looked at her and [felt] she is so beautiful.”

Speaking to her, Rakesh Roshan found out that Ameesha was still in college. “I asked if she wants to act in films. She said, ‘I don’t mind.’ I asked her to come home the next day,” he said.

So, Ameesha Patel visited Rakesh Roshan the next day. The filmmaker had not told his son Hrithik, the film's leading man, about her. “I made her sit together [with Hrithik] to see how they look," he said. "Once I realized she was good, I told her she is not going back now. I said, ‘We are shooting after four days. You have to stay at my house. I will make all your dresses. I will narrate the story and teach you certain things in these three or four days’."

It was hard work for the filmmaker. “I coached her for [those four] days. I took a chance. She was a raw girl [then]. She had never learnt acting. She didn’t know the ABCD of acting. Nothing. But I took her on.”

Kareena Kapoor went on to make her debut the same year in June in JP Dutta’s Refugee (2000). That film's leading man was another star son making his debut, Abhishek Bachchan.