30 years ago, on August 6, the nation was taken by a storm, when the theatres played ‘Nayak nahi
‘Khal Nayak was supposed to be an art cinema’
“The idea of Khalnayak germinated from Ravan. Back then, iss pe kisi ne film nahi banayi thi. Not many are aware that when I started out with the film, I was making an art cinema with Nana Patekar. Khalnayak was an out and out art cinema story about his character moving from Pune to Mumbai. My writer’s told me ‘Why don’t you make a commercial movie and make it larger than life’. That is when we went all out – Subhash Ghai
Anil Kapoor was keen to play khalnayak
Khal Nayak’s casting is a story within itself. Subhash was only certain about one actor – Jackie Shroff. “Ram was, of course, Jackie Shroff. It was the easiest character to cast. I was very clear about him. Anil Kapoor was keen to play the antagonist. He came to my home twice or thrice. He said, ‘Subhash Ji, I am very keen to do this role’. I told him, ‘Ye tujhe suit nahi karega. Tu jayega, main jaaunga and film bhi jaayegi.’ While a few speculated that even Aamir Khan had reached out to Subhash to play the titular character, the director refutes the speculations: “Aamir wanted to do Saudagar. But I was looking for a new face and he was already a star.”
Was tensed about Choli Ke Peeche before its release
The movie’s music, composed by music duo Laxmikant- Pyarelal was a massive hit, selling over 10 million copies. Subhash reveals he anticipated the sad song O Maa Tujhe Salaam, sung by Jagjit Singh, to be a chartbuster. However, it was the title track and the most controversial song Choli Ke Peeche that went on to become hugely popular. “The lyricist (Anand Bakshi) asked me, ‘Kis tarah ka mujra hona chahiye?’ I thought about it and told him to skip the mujra and instead think of a folk song, because the character has to make Ballu believe she comes from a rural setting. Raat ko unhone mujhe phone kiya with the lyrics and I was shocked. I said, “No we cannot make this’. He started laughing. He made me hear the second stanza – Yeh Dil main dungi apne yaar ko…and I told him that he was compensating. But yes, I was quite tense, so we decided to make it an artistic song. The song in itself is a scene. There were so many organizations who protested the song. But I always asked them to listen to it in its entirety. Today, the song has gained cult status and is enjoyed by youngsters.
‘Sanjay’s imprisonment was very disturbing for me’
During the filming of the movie, the film’s main lead Sanjay Dutt was arrested. “It was big shock for me and very disturbing. Subhash confesses. He adds, “I couldn’t imagine that this would happen. I was very close to Dutt sahab (Sunil Dutt, Sanjay’s father and actor). We had to take the situation as it was. I told Sanjay, “Tu jo bhi hai sach boldena, sach ke siwa kuch mat bolna’. The worst thing was the protests. Everyone was saying, ‘terrorist and real-life villain ko Subhash Ghai le raha hai’. But all of that saved us a lot of money (laughs), as I cut down on my promotional budget. The movie was even discussed in the parliament.”
‘When you become a success, you should be ready to accept that you will make many enemies’
Not many are aware that on the same date, alongside Khalnayak, another film was released, Khal-Naaikaa, starring Jeetendra and Jaya Prada. “When you become a success, you should be ready to accept that you will make many enemies”, says the director. He further explains, “I could see the enmity coming from various places. Millions were happy when Trimutri flopped. One day I got to know that someone was releasing the movie Khal Naaikaa on the same date. Bohot hungama hua. I spoke to IMPPA (The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association) and they said that they will release their film on the same date, and I can move my date if I want. The last week before the release was a very tough time for me. There were 45 people at that IMPPA’s meeting, and they were all against me. I have faced many such hurdles in my life.