It was meant to be another triangle altogether. Amitabh Bcahchan married to Smita Patil in an extra-marital love affair with Parveen Babi. That was the deal. The entire cast and crew of Silsila flew to Kashmir for the shooting. And then something happened. There was a sudden change in the casting. Parveen Babi and Smita Patil were politely told to go home. They were quietly replaced by Rekha and Jaya Bachchan. Apparently this casting coup was suggested to Yash Chopra by the film’s leading man. Just imagine. Amitabh Bachchan as Man, Jaya Bachchan as Wife and Rekha as the Other Woman. What a drool-worthy cast! But at what cost?
Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha
A source closely associated with Silsila says, “That wasn’t a very nice thing to happen. It was all very sudden and improper. We don’t know whose idea it was. We’ve heard it was Bachchan Saab who suggested the change. He even took on the task of persuading Jayaji to come out of retirement to do this one film. Others say it was Yashji’s idea to make the casting more exciting by casting Jaya ji and Rekha ji. But only God knows what the truth was. But the way in which Smitaji and Parveenji were packed off, after they began shooting, was highly unprofessional.”
Apparently Parveen Babi never forgave or forgot the snub, and took every opportunity she got to attack Mr Bachchan. Silsila released and bombed. But Yash Chopra felt it was a film ahead of its times. “Silsila was the first film on extra-marital relations to have broken the barriers between offbeat and mainstream cinema. Some films are destined to succeed in retrospect. This was the case with Guru Dutt’s Kagaz Ke Phool. On release it was a disaster. Today it’s a classic. Our business may be called showbiz. But we owe more to society than mere entertainment. We have to make films that would wean audiences away from their mindsets regarding cinematic entertainment,” said the late filmmaker once in an interview.