Do You Know Which Bollywood Actress Turned Down Mahesh Bhatt's Aashiqui Before Anu Agarwal Was Cast?
One of Mahesh Bhatt’s finest films as a director, Aashiqui has completed 27 years since its release on August 17, 1990. Reminiscing the love story, Bhatt recalls its iconic still — newcomers Rahul Roy and Anu Aggarwal kissing under a long coat. “That was a path-breaking design. My lead pair did not have “stunning looks” as per the diktats of Bollywood in those days... I kept their faces covered [in the poster]. That image is still burned into the consciousness of the nation,” he says.
In his ever-charming style, the acclaimed filmmaker adds, “What Aashiqui affirms to be is that movies become timeless only when they continue to flicker in the hearts and the minds of the people of the country.”
But did you know that the film was inspired by Bhatt’s love story with his first wife, Lorraine Bright, and that he wanted his daughter, actor Pooja Bhatt, to be its heroine? “The narrative of the guy falling in love with an orphan girl was kind of cannibalised from my relationship with the first love of my life... my wife Lorraine Bright. It was the heartbeat of this love tale... I approached Pooja to play the role of her mother because I could see the story of Lorraine highly expressive and more submissive if Pooja had agreed to do it,” he says.
Pooja, who had forayed into acting with Daddy (1989), turned down the offer. “She was reluctant to make her commitment to the world of movies, particularly acting. So, she said no,” reveals Bhatt, adding that this left his brother, filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt (producer of the film) really surprised.
“He [Mukesh] had gone to give her [Pooja] the money to sign her up as the leading lady and couldn’t understand that why would she say no to a role as important as that of a leading lady in a musical that her father was making?” shares Bhatt.
But it wasn’t long before Pooja regretted her decision. “On the first day of the shoot, I wanted Pooja to give the clap for the mahurat shot, and I saw regret rippling her,” shares Bhatt, who makes a candid revelation. “Even today, Pooja laughingly says that it was silly of her to turn down Aashiqui. To make up for that, she jumped into the offer of Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin (1991).”
As for working with newbies in Aashiqui, Bhatt says it was nowhere a challenge for him. “I love working with new people. Rahul and Anu were raw and young... I could shape them the way I wanted to,” he concludes.