Chunnu-Munnu – Subhash Ghai’s Nicknames For Dilip Kumar, Raaj Kumar
MUMBAI (ANI) – Filmmaker Subhash Ghai is credited with bringing together bitter rivals Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar in the 1991 film ‘Saudagar’.
Ghai recalled how he approached the duo who were then in their 60s and couldn’t stand each other at that time to play lead roles and how he ended up working with the legends who gradually lost their animosity.
Ghai said he first wrote the story before deciding on the actors. “When I first wrote the story, I thought that it should be made either with Amrish Puri and Anupam Kher or with Dilip Kumar or Raaj Kumar… my choice was that it should be with Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar only because I wanted a film to be a high quality one. So, I met them and narrated the story.”
“I told them (Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar) that as a director I can only guarantee that the roles of both the actors will be equal. It won’t be 59-40 but 50-50…You trust us, and we will make it… but I hear that you are not talking to each other… I hear that you don’t like each other… I hear that a picture will not be made… many people asked me not to make this film with these people…so I have still come to you… they liked me honestly. They never troubled me,” Ghai recalled.
Ghai pointed out that he used his trademark technique of handling “star actors like children,” and to “become a mother” to them and it always was effective in smoothing ruffled egos. The ‘Showman’ filmmaker revealed that he nicknamed Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar “Chunnu and Munnu” and even the spot boys took to calling them by those names.
“Later on, they got to know that we call them Chunnu-Munnu and eventually they also became friends,” Ghai said.
The filmmaker approached Dilip Kumar first and told him about the film and his co-star and then went to Raaj Kumar with the news. Ghai recalled that when Raaj Kumar was told about acting with Dilip Kumar, he paused for a few seconds and said “Brother, if I consider someone an actor after myself, it is Dilip Kumar.”
“That is how Raaj Kumar was, his attitude, style, and thinking. But he was a very good man inside, he used to respect honest people,” recalls the veteran filmmaker.
‘Saudagar’ also starred Vivek Mushran, Manisha Koirala, Jackie Shroff and Amirsh Puri in pivotal roles.
Ghai’s notable works include ‘Kalicharan’, ‘Vishwanath’, ‘Karz’, ‘Hero’, ‘Vidhaata’, ‘Karma’, ‘Ram Lakhan’, ‘Khalnayak’, ‘Pardes’, and ‘Taal’.