Rang De Basanti is a cult Indian patriotic film. Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, it was released 15 years ago on this day. The film boasts of an ensemble cast led by Aamir Khan. R Madhvan, Soha Ali Khan, Siddharth, Kunal Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Atul Kulkarni and Kirron Kher, among others, played pivotal roles in the film that is still a rage among youngsters. But did you know that the cast of Rang De Basanti underwent several changes before it reached the final stage? Among those considered for the cast were Arjun Rampal and Hrithik Roshan, as well as Shah Rukh Khan.
R Madhavan played the role of Indian Air Force pilot Ajay Rathod in Rang De Basanti. Though it was a cameo, as the character dies in a plane crash, Ajay Rathod is pivotal to the story. Before R Madhavan, director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra had approached Shah Rukh Khan for the cameo. In an interview to Hindustan Times, Mehra said, “Shah Rukh was approached for Ajay Rathod’s role. I pursued him for a while. But the dates didn’t work out. With Shah Rukh, you don’t question too much. We share a healthy relationship.”
Shah Rukh Khan was not the only actor who was approached by the makers but couldn’t be a part of Rang De Basanti. Initially, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra wanted to cast Arjun Rampal in the role of Karan Singhania. But it didn’t work out because when the character crystallised, Arjun didn’t emerge as the right choice. The makers then approached Hrithik Roshan, who loved the script but didn’t have the time.
Eventually, Karan Singhania was played by Siddharth.
Not just lead actors, the title of the film also saw many changes until it was finally narrowed down to Rang De Basanti. It was earlier titled The Young Guns of India, then went with Ahuti. But finally, the makers zeroed in on Rang De Basanti to connect with the youth. The first draft of the film came up in 1997-1998 with the name The Young Guns of India. The main idea was to narrate the story of Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ramprasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Rajguru, Sukhdev and other freedom fighters, who laid down their lives for the nation, in a way so that people could identify with them.
However, the makers felt Rang De Basanti not only gives a desi feel to the film, but also connects with the young generation of India, who, despite being heavily influenced by American sitcoms, are proud Indians at heart.