November 10, 2023
Long before the Russo brothers, there was filmmaking brother duo Abbas-Mustan. Few could name their first two films (in Gujarati) or their first Hindi movie, Agneekaal, but their second, Khiladi (1992), “a musical thriller,” was a hit, increasing pressure to deliver another. So when Khiladi actor Deepak Tijori proposed a Hindi remake based on the 1956 Hollywood noir A Kiss Before Dying — about an enterprising man who covets a business empire and will go to any lengths to attain it (you see where this is going) — the brothers took to it with glee.
But instead of casting Tijori, as lore goes, they went to every big hero at the time. One by one, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Khiladi actor Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, and Anil Kapoor all said no — they couldn’t risk their “hero” or romantic images. Salman Khan’s legendary scriptwriting father, Salim Khan, even suggested plot changes to make the protagonist more likable that would make it into the final cut. But it was a boy from Delhi, Shah Rukh Khan, who heard the unaltered story of a very unlikeable man and, unhesitatingly, took it on. That one gamble would forever change the trajectory of Bollywood.