While it takes an army, literally, to bring a story to life, there’s no denying the fact that actors become the face of the movie. And in these films, it’s hard to believe who was eventually cast in the role, and which actor was the first choice for it: 

1. Irrfan Khan was the original choice to play Sardar Udham Singh, before Vicky Kaushal. 

Vicky Kaushal revealed that the original choice for the role of Sardar Udham Singh was the late actor Irrfan Khan, but reportedly, he opted out of the project at the time because of his health. 

irrfan khan
DNA India

And that’s how Kaushal got the project. 

Nobody can fill his shoes. For me, Irrfan Saab is one of the finest actors across the world. It has been an honour that I have been considered for the same film.

Vicky Kaushal to News18
vicky kaushal
India Today

2. Ranbir Kapoor was the original choice for Ayushmann Khurrana’s role in Article 15

Ayushmann Khurrana was spot-on in his portrayal of ASP Ayan Ranjan, but according to reports, he was not the first choice for the role. Director Anubha Sinha wanted Ranbir Kapoor to star as the lead. 

ranbir kapoor
DNA India

But things didn’t work out with Kapoor, and Khurrana expressed an interest in the script, and ultimately, landed the role. 

ayushmann khurrana
The National News

3. Katrina Kaif was the first choice for Ileana D’Cruz’s role in Barfi! 

Anurag Basu initially wanted to cast Katrina Kaif as Shruti Ghosh Sengupta, Murphy’s first love interest and the narrator of the film. 

katrina kaif

However, reportedly, Kaif did not want to play the second female lead. Ultimately, Ileana played the role of Shruti while Jayati Bhatia did the narration. 

ileana d'cruz

4. Twinkle Khanna was the first choice for Rani’s role in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. 

It’s no secret that the very reason Rani Mukerjee’s character was called Tina in Karan Johar’s debut film is that he wanted to cast Twinkle Khanna in the role. 

twinkle khanna
Open Magazine (Provided by Daboo Ratnani)

However, Twinkle turned down the role and Rani was cast instead. 

rani mukerjee
India Forums

5. Salman Khan was the first choice for Shah Rukh Khan’s role in Baazigar

It’s hard to imagine anyone but SRK as the ultimate anti-hero Vicky. But, director-duo actually offered the role to Salman Khan first, who after discussing the script with his father, writer Salim Khan, turned down the role for being too ‘negative’. The rest, as they say, is history. 

salman khan
Daily Hunt
shah rukh khan
Outlook India

6. Akshay Kumar was the first choice for Farhan Akhtar’s role in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

From Farhan’s mannerisms to his ripped look, he was perfect as the legendary athlete Milkha Singh. However, apparently, Milkha Singh preferred Akshay Kumar to play the role initially. 

akshay kumar

But, Kumar had already signed up for other movies and had to turn down the role. Thereafter, the role went to Farhan Akhtar who even won the Filmfare Award for his performance. 

farhan akhtar

7. Kareena Kapoor was the first choice for Deepika Padukone’s role in Goliyon Ki Rasleela, Ram-Leela

The first of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s trilogy with Ranveer and Deepika Padukone was initially supposed to star Kareena Kapoor as the female lead. 

kareena kapoor khan
Deccan Chronicle

However, after Kareena turned down the role for Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Deepika Padukone was cast as Leela.  

deepika padukone

8. Kangana Ranaut was the first choice for Vidya Balan’s role in The Dirty Picture.  

The Dirty Picture was one of the first films to establish Vidya Balan as a powerhouse performer, with the ability to completely lead a film on her able shoulders. However, the film was originally offered to Kangana Ranaut, who chose to work on Tanu Weds Manu instead. 

kangana ranaut
vidya balan

9. Bobby Deol was the first choice for Shahid Kapoor’s role in Jab We Met.

Imtiaz Ali was originally supposed to make the film with Bobby Deol, but at the time, Bobby had other projects, and Jab We Met got shelved. 

bobby deol
Indulge Express

Later, a meeting with Shahid Kapoor prompted Ali to bring back the film on board, ultimately rejuvenating not just his own career, but also Shahid and Kareena’s. 

shahid kapoor
Awaaz Nation

10. Shah Rukh Khan was the first choice for Aamir Khan’s role in 3 Idiots

Shah Rukh Khan actually referred to himself as the ‘fourth idiot’ while talking about how he turned down 3 Idiots, which went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of the year. 

India TV News

Ultimately, Aamir Khan acted in 3 Idiots. And this wasn’t even the first time that a film, originally supposed to star Shah Rukh Khan, went to Aamir. Apparently, SRK was the first choice for both Lagaan and Rang De Basanti as well. 

aamir khan

11. Varun Dhawan was the first choice for Ayushmann Khurrana’s role in Andhadhun

Sriram Raghavan had shared the idea for Andhadhun with Varun Dhawan while working with him on Badlapur. However, Dhawan became busy with other films and Ayushmann reached out to Raghavan on his own, professing a desire to work with him. 

varun dhawan
English Mathrubhumi

And that’s when Raghavan realized ‘this guy was right under my nose and I hadn’t seen.’ He did a couple of scenes with the actor, and Ayushmann was finalized for the role. 

Indian Express

12. Shah Rukh Khan was the first choice for Munna Bhai M.B.B.S, and Sanjay Dutt, in fact, was originally considered for Jimmy Sheirgill’s role.  

Shah Rukh Khan was originally considered for Munna Bhai but because of health issues, he could not do the film. 

shahrukh khan

It was then that Sanjay Dutt, who was originally supposed to play another, smaller role in the film, was cast as the lead instead. And thus began his career’s second innings. 

sanjay dutt

13. Juhi Chawla was the first choice for Karisma Kapoor’s role in Dil To Paagal Hai

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Karishma Kapoor nailing those dance moves, especially when sharing screen space with the dancing queen, Madhuri Dixit. But, Juhi Chawla admitted that she was the first choice for the film, and rejected it because, at the time, she didn’t want to do movies with more than one heroine. 

juhi chawla
karisma kapoor

14. Raaj Kumar was the first choice for Amitabh Bachchan’s role in Zanjeer

The film that launched Amitabh Bachchan as the ‘angry, young man’ of B-town was initially supposed to star Raaj Kumar in the lead role. 

raaj kumar
India TV News

However, as the story goes, not only Raaj Kumar, but several other leading actors of the time turned down the film, and ultimately, Amitabh Bachchan was cast as Inspector Vijay Khanna.  

amitabh bachchan
Movie Mahal

15. Kareena Kapoor was the first choice for Kangana Ranaut’s role in Queen

Queen, the film that went on to win two National Film Awards, was actually offered first to Kareena Kapoor, who rejected the role because she felt the role wouldn’t fit her. And that’s how Kangana Ranaut ended up playing Rani Mehra. 

kareena kapoor khan
Geo TV
India Today

16. Anushka Sharma was the first choice for Deepika Padukone’s role in Tamasha

Initially, Anushka Sharma was supposed to star in Imtiaz Ali’s romantic drama but she rejected the film, following which Ali decided to cast Deepika as Tara. 

anushka sharma

17. Imran Khan was the first choice for Arjun Kapoor’s role in 2 States

2 States went through a fair share of casting changes, with Saif Ali Khan and Priyanka Chopra being the first choice for the lead couple. When that didn’t pan out, the role was also offered to Imran Khan, who turned it down for Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola

imran khan

And thus the role of Krish went to Arjun Kapoor. Reportedly, even Ananya’s role was turned down by Anushka, before it went to Alia Bhatt. The film, with Arjun and Alia in the lead, crossed the 100-cr mark. 

2 states

18. Madhuri Dixit was the first choice for Tabu’s role in Astitva

Not only is Tabu’s performance in Astitva considered one of her finest, but it was also one of the first Hindi language movies to call out the toxic effects of patriarchy. However, the role was actually offered first to Madhuri Dixit, who refused it. 

madhuri dixit
Film Companion

19. Aamir Khan was the first choice for Shah Rukh Khan’s role in Darr

The role that defined SRK’s powerful screen presence was actually offered to Aamir Khan first. But Aamir rejected the role for being ‘too negative’, and thus Shah Rukh Khan was cast as Rahul Mehra. 

aamir khan
Deccan Chronicle

20. Shahid Kapoor was the first choice for Dhanush’s role in Raanjhanaa

Shahid Kapoor was Anand Rai’s first choice for his romantic drama because he was looking for an actor with a ‘boyish charm’. 

shahid kapoor
Instagram/Shahid Kapoor

However, Shahid could not do the film and that’s how Dhanush made his Bollywood debut. 

Asian Age

Written in the ‘stars’?