If Sridevi had lived, she would have played the role of the doomed tawaif Bahaar Begum in Abhishek Varman’s mega-starrer Kalank that releases this week in the UAE. But fate had other plans. And it is hugely ironical that the actress stepping into Sridevi’s role is none other than her biggest and only arch rival, Madhuri Dixit. It is a fact that Madhuri was the only actress of her generation who was considered a threat to Sridevi’s supremacy. It is also true that the two could never quite see eye to eye, and that the only film that was to bring the two divas together - Ramesh Sippy’s Zameen - was never completed. Apparently Madhuri was very reluctant to do a role earmarked for Sridevi, and that too opposite Sanjay Dutt with whom she had been linked in the past and shared an unpleasant history. The two were in a relationship that ended abruptly when Dutt was accused of anti-national activities. Madhuri ceased all communication with Dutt thereafter. The duo has never spoken about their alleged relationship but it has now become the stuff of urban legend.
Known to be explosively emotional, Dutt would launch into a tirade against Madhuri Dixit after downing a few drinks in front of close friends. Time, as they say, is the greatest healer. And of course, there is the Karan Johar factor. He can make the impossible happen. Both Mr Dutt and Ms Dixit have moved on. They are in happy marriages and the bitterness of the past has been washed away, thanks in no small measure to the intervention of Karan Johar who reminded both the actors that they would benefit immensely from their alliance in Kalank. After all, it is a dream pairing that would get the press as well as their fans excited.
The mutual benefit fund always supersedes all other considerations. What about Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Salman Khan? After a bitter fall-out and with Salman hurling curses at his former friend, they are back together, all bitterness washed away. It takes the guts of a Ranbir Kapoor to say no to Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Ranbir turned down every film that Bhansali offered him after Saawariya. Ranbir decided he won’t work with his Christopher Columbus. No power on earth could persuade him.
So much more convenient to shove all differences under the carpet and pretend nothing happened. Perhaps it’s all good in the interests of a film.