Subhash Ghai reflects on casting Akshaye Khanna in Taal: 'He does not belong to that category of ‘baazaaru’ stars' - Exclusive

subhash ghai reflects on casting akshaye khanna in taal: 'he does not belong to that category of ‘baazaaru’ stars' - exclusive

Subhash Ghai reflects on casting Akshaye Khanna in Taal: 'He does not belong to that category of ‘baazaaru’ stars' - Exclusive

Veteran filmmaker Subhash Ghai shared insights into the casting process and character development of Akshaye Khanna's role for his blockbuster film Taal. In a candid conversation with ETimes, Ghai described the character played by Akshaye as one of the most challenging and honest he had ever written.

He told us, "It was one of the most difficult, complexed, and honest characters in my films. I wanted to make an all-star cast film and all stars were in favour of working with me because Pardes and Khalnayak worked very well at the Box Office. Although the stars wanted to work with me, I did not want to work with those images of stars. I was stuck to the character I had written. I did not know whom to cast. It was easy for me to cast Anil Kapoor because I had worked with him."

The turning point came when Vinod Khanna introduced Ghai to his son Akshaye Khanna. Ghai was immediately struck by the young actor’s intensity and honesty. "I found great intensity in that young boy. I could feel from inside that he is a character on his face who speaks the truth, thinks the truth, and acts the truth. I am glad that I cast him. Had that character been artificial, it would not have worked on screen despite good music," Ghai recalled.

Reflecting on Akshaye’s career, Ghai praised his unconventional approach and commitment to authenticity. He stated that unlike many actors who rely on agents and branding, Akshaye is selective about his roles and maintains a direct relationship with directors.

"All distributors and music companies were with me even after casting a new boy. Till today, that young boy named Akshaye Khanna has not changed. He does not belong to that category of ‘baazaaru’ stars. By baazaaru, I mean the ones who depend on their agents, brands, and how they should look," Ghai shared.

He further added, "Akshaye is a kind of an actor who if he likes you and the subject of the film, then he surrenders to you. Then he doesn’t act funny. I have never met Akshaye Khanna’s manager. He comes straight to me. We have mutual respect and love for each other. He does very few films of his choice. He is a very unconventional star."

Ghai contrasted Akshaye's attitude with that of his father Vinod Khanna, describing the elder Khanna as a good man and a good friend but he was a typical star with insecurities and mood swings. In contrast, Akshaye is straightforward and genuine.

The filmmaker recounted a moment when he asked Akshaye why he didn't promote his father's political campaign in Gurdaspur, to which Akshaye responded, “What do I have to do to promote my father? I am neither a politician nor a social person. I don’t serve society. Why should I go there and speak lies to people?”

Ultimately, Ghai credited the success of Taal to the collective efforts of Akshaye Khanna, AR Rahman, Anand Bakshi, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. "Akshaye Khanna made Taal a film with integrity. It is a commercial film, but it became a film with integrity because of Akshaye Khanna’s portrayal of the character. I will give full credit to AR Rahman, Anand Bakshi, Akshaye Khanna and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. These are the people who made Taal a great film. We were on the same page and all of them respected the director as the captain of the ship,” he concluded.

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