Shatrughan Sinha was the first choice to play Jai in Sholay

As the nation’s biggest superstar Amitabh Bachchan celebrates his birthday today, actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha who had worked together with Sr. Bachchan in several blockbusters like Kaala Patthar, Dostana and Naseeb, cherished some golden memories related to the actor. Speaking to a leading Indian daily, Shatrughan Sinha said, “We first acted together in Mukul Dutt’s Raaste Kaa Pathar. We shot for another film, called Aparajit. It was based on Becket (1964). The film was later remade as Namak Haram by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. In Aparajit, I was playing the role that Amitabh did in Namak Haram. Unfortunately, the film got stalled. Aparajit was completed by another director (Ashok Gupta) and released as Yaar Meri Zindagi in 2008.

We had some great times together. I had come to the industry a little before him. I used to rent a flat on the second floor in Bandstand’s Devdoot Apartment. Anwar Ali (comedian Mehmood’s brother), Subhash Ghai, Asrani, Paintal, Anil Dhawan, Amitabh — all of them would assemble there. We would go out in the evening and have fun at a lounge, disco or movie theatre. Sometimes we tried to date the same girl. Those days I used to have a second-hand Austin, bought from comedian Jagdeep. It often broke down. Amitabh used to say by the time Shatrughan Sinha reaches for a show, it is already interval.

There was some stress and strain in our relationship after Kaala Patthar, where my performance was much-talked about. Magazines wrote about it. But overall, we have been the best of friends over the decades. We have fought, too, but we also have tremendous affection for each other.

He invited me for Abhishek’s marriage. I called him for my son Kush’s wedding. I was grateful that he attended each and every function. And he was always on time even though both Kush and I were often late. (laughs)

Amitabh has tremendous commitment and passion for his work. He is lucky too. Do you know I was supposed to do the role of Jai in Sholay? But I was never jealous of him, though I have envied him. That he is part of the film industry is a matter of pride for all of us. It would be an honour for the film industry if he becomes the President of India one day.”