Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has revealed that British actor and the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, had auditioned for the role of the British jailor who walks freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev to be hanged, in his 2006 hit film, 'Rang De Basanti'.
In his recently released autobiography,'The Stranger in the Mirror', Mehra writes that Craig, was was unable to appear in the film because he was also being considered to be the next James Bond at the time.
Mehra, who had worked in advertising, says he wanted to develop international cinema and wanted the backend to be meticulously handled. He was able to enlist the help of David Reid and Adam Bowling, who were executive producers on popular British crime-comedies, 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' and 'Snatch'.
"They were responsible for casting Alice Patten and Steven Mackintosh for the parts of Sue and James McKinley, respectively. I remember vividly that one of the people who auditioned for the part of James McKinley, the young jailor who walks Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev to be hanged, was none other than current James Bond, Daniel Craig," recalls Mehra.
Craig came through David and Adam.
"Daniel Craig was my first choice but he requested if we could allow some time as he was also being considered to be the next James Bond. The rest, as they say, is history," says the director of critically acclaimed films such as 'Rang De Basanti', 'Delhi-6' and 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag'.
He also writes how he had almost finalised Peter Gabriel, one of the founding members of the British rock band Genesis, to work on "Rang De Basanti's music, but something inside him said that A R Rahman should be doing it.
"The music of RDB was the soul of the film; the songs AR created became de facto national anthems," he says.
The book features first person accounts of some of the most prolific names of Indian cinema and the advertising world - Waheeda Rahman, AR Rahman, Manoj Bajpayee, Abhishek Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Sonam Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Ronnie Screwvala, Atul Kulkarni, R Madhavan, Divya Dutta and Prahlad Kakar. It has a foreword by A R Rahman and an afterword by Aamir Khan.
In the book, Mehra also mentions his love for sports and how he almost made it to the Indian swimming squad at the 1982 Asian Games.
"I was the youngest on the team and made it all the way to the final training camp for the contingent that trained for the Asian Games. My teammates eventually won the bronze at the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi.
"Though I never made it to the final national team for the Asian Games, sports was a way of life and continues to be," the director, who has helmed sports-based films like "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" and his latest 'Toofaan', says.
Mehra also writes about how he planned to launch Abhishek Bachchan in a film called 'Samjhauta Express' but it did not materialise. Just before they were to shoot the first schedule in Ladakh, Jaya Bachchan called Mehra to say that 'Refugee' will be Abhishek's first film, and not 'Samjhauta Express'.
Mehra was "deeply disappointed and crestfallen" and declared that he would never make 'Samjhauta Express'. He took the script and all the research work, location pictures, wardrobe trials and burnt them in a bonfire on his terrace on the barbecue stove.
"I understood the decision (Abhishek's) rationally. My script involved Abhishek playing a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist in his first film, which was against the grain of how Indian audiences perceive their hero... I couldn't help but wonder: what is the right launch pad for an actor with a gargantuan legacy like Abhishek?" he writes.
The director and Abhishek Bachchan, son of veteran stars Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan, later went on to work together in "Delhi-6", which released nine years after the actor's debut in 2000.
(With Inputs From PTI)