{ Page-Title / Story-Title }

News Hindi

Aamir Khan had initially cast son Junaid as Laal Singh Chaddha

But the senior actor confirmed that the newcomer will make his debut in Yash Raj Films' Maharaja.

Junaid Khan

Keyur Seta

Aamir Khan, during a group interview on his upcoming film Laal Singh Chaddha — of which Cinestaan was a part, revealed that his son Junaid was initially cast as the titular character. The movie was in its initial stage when his son returned from Los Angeles after learning the craft of acting. 

It all started when Khan decided to test Advait Chandan before handing over the responsibility of directing Laal Singh Chaddha. “I told Advait, ‘This is a very difficult film. While you have done a great job with Secret Superstar (2017), this is a tricky film and I am not sure I can hand it over to you as a director until you show me a test,’” said Khan. “I asked him to shoot six to seven scenes, which I would pick; tough ones.” 

Coincidentally, it was also the time when Junaid returned to India. “I asked Advait to do this test without me,” said Khan. “I asked him to do it with Junaid. By doing this, I would also be able to test Junaid. We would get to know what exactly he had learnt in LA [laughs].” 

Advait and Junaid rehearsed for two weeks before shooting. When Khan and Kiran Rao saw the footage, they were blown away. “Junaid’s performance was too good,” said Khan. “After watching him, I felt I was watching Laal. I felt since I have seen [someone else] play Laal, I couldn’t play Laal. I was in a dharam sankat [quandary].” 

Khan had grown his beard for six months for the role. Before shaving it off, in order to be sure, he asked Rao to confirm if it was only him or if Junaid’s performance was actually very good. “She said, no he has done really well. I then showed it to Mansoor [Khan], Svati [Chakravarty Bhatkal] and others close to me like Rajkumar Hirani, Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar. It was 20-minute footage. So 98% of them said I should take Junaid.” 

Laal Singh Chaddha is the official Hindi adaptation of the Hollywood classic Forrest Gump (1994). The film saw Tom Hanks play the protagonist who is innocent by nature.

Khan said that he could clearly see the character’s innocence in Junaid. “He is innocent whereas I had to play innocent,” he said. “We decided that we will make the film with him. Hence, I shaved off my beard.” 

However, Atul Kulkarni, who has written the script, and Aditya Chopra felt Junaid wasn’t the right choice and they were sure about it. “We kept on discussing and arguing,” said Khan. “Adi’s point was that it’s not a plot-heavy film. It’s an episodic film and we shouldn’t take a newcomer in an episodic film. They said he wouldn’t be able to carry it; it doesn’t matter who he is. They felt a star should play this role, not a newcomer.” 

After thinking a lot, Khan got convinced. “I bought that argument and I came back to the project,” he said. “But by that time, I had shaved off my beard. Then I again started growing it. Again six months passed. I would have had a much longer beard."

Surprisingly, Junaid himself wasn’t keen on doing the film. “He had already said that he shouldn’t be cast in this film. He is a very practical guy. He said, ‘Papa your budget is too high, you can’t take me’,” he said. 

Khan also claimed that he found the right approach to play Chaddha thanks to Junaid’s audition. “Those were the key scenes of the film,” said Khan. “So after watching him, I found the sur of those scenes. This might be sounding odd to you guys. I was considering him for Laal Singh Chaddha only because he is damn good. There was no other reason. And even then we didn’t take him.” 

Khan admitted that he felt bad as a father. “I never expected him to do better than me,” he said. “I was happy to know that he knows his work. He gets lost in his work and that’s a wonderful quality. Just imagine, you give a test and do better than Aamir Khan, but you are still not being taken.” 

Despite Junaid insisting on not being cast, Khan feels he must have felt disappointed. “He didn’t show it. He is too sporting. Anyone would [feel disappointed] who wants and loves to act and feels that everyone is liking my work but is not getting it. I feel this is also a learning for him.” 

But his test for Laal Singh Chaddha did earn Junaid his first film — Yash Raj Films’ Maharaja. “He has done a film. Adi had seen Junaid’s test for Laal Singh Chaddha. He did say that I shouldn’t take Junaid but we were convinced that he knows how to act. After a year, Adi said that he has found a script,” said Aamir. 

Also starring Kareena Kapoor, Laal Singh Chaddha will be released in theatres on 11 August.