It has been three decades today since Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar released. There are so many of us who expressed their first loves with Pehla Nasha. And who could forget Pooja Bedi in her red skirt. But, as the film completes 30 years, Deepak Tijori, who played the character of Shekhar in the film, revealed that the initial cast of the film was very different from what the audience got to see.
In an interview with Bollywood Hungama, Deepak Tijori said that he was rejected at the auditions for the film and Milind Soman was roped in as Shekhar. In fact, he had even shot 75% of the film. He said, “I had auditioned aur mere ko bhi nikaal diya tha! Main nahi tha Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar mein pehle. Milind Soman had bagged the part. 75% of the film was shot with him. Then the makers scrapped the film. It was shut for some time. I knew they had shot it as I had auditioned and I was not selected.”
He added, “Initially, they had a different cast. In place of Ayesha Jhulka, there was Girija Shettar. Karishma Pahuja was signed to play the role that was eventually essayed by Pooja Bedi. She was a model then. Step by step, they kept changing people.”
So how did the Deepak Tijori bag the role? He revealed, “Later, Aamir Khan pushed Mansoor Khan to have a look at me. Aamir told Mahesh Bhatt (about the requirement of an actor). Those days, they were shooting for Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin (1991) in Ooty. In between, Bhatt saab came to Mumbai for 2 days and that’s when he called me home. He told me to go and meet Mansoor. I was not prepared; as per my knowledge, they were already shooting and Milind Soman was already on board. I told Bhatt saab ‘It is not ethically right. But I’ll go and meet him.’ He retorted, ‘Just shut up! Do what I am telling you’!”
He further added, “I met Nasir Hussain saab and I met Mansoor. I figured out that there was a certain reason why they were making changes. I made it clear that as long as Milind is aware of me stepping into the character, I am game. They assured me that everyone has been informed. Nasir saab told me, ‘Beta, humne itna kharcha kar diya hai aur kayi saal se mehnat ki hai’. He requested me to do the role. I told him that ‘Sir, aapko koi kaise mana kar sakta hai’. He was a legend. We had grown up watching his films. Then, we started shooting.”
Well, we are glad how the film finally turned out to be, because it was with this cast that the film got its cult status.