Sonakshi Sinha, Sidharth Malhotra's upcoming Ittefaq is based on Yash Chopra's classic whodunit

Abhishek Srivastava

Jul,23 2017 13:09 39 IST

It was a film, which could be dubbed as a perfect example of serendipity. It was also a film that defied most of the established norms of filmmaking in Bollywood in the late 60s. Now Bollywood biggies Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar have taken a liking to the 1969 cult thriller, Ittefaq.

Ittefaq, the whodunit thriller that unfurls on a rainy night, directed by Yash Chopra in 1969, will see its redux version on 3 November this year. To use a cliché, Ittefaq was ahead of its time.

The shoot of Ittefaq starring Sidharth Malhotra and Sonakshi Sinha has begin. Dharma Productions and Red Chillies is helming the 2017 remake.

The unusual film, sans songs, is still remembered for breaking myths in an era that was plagued by defined norms. Though the film is currently being remade by the collaborative efforts of Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies, Karan Johar’s Dharma Production and BR Films, the irrepressible Ram Gopal Varma had paid homage to the film in his 1999 release Kaun, the thriller starring Urmila and Manoj Bajpai.

In 1969, when acclaimed filmmaker, BR Chopra assigned his younger brother, Yash Chopra to direct the Dharmendra and Saira Bano starrer Aadmi Aur Insaan, the shoot of the film got stalled after Bano fell ill and was rushed to London for medical treatment. It was a long wait for the BR Films banner as Saira Banu was unavailable for the next two months.

The spare time allowed Yash Chopra to indulge in every other activity but filmmaking and one evening, just to while away time, he decided to buy tickets for a Gujarati play titled Dhummas. The play had two stalwarts from the field of theatre playing the lead roles – Arvind Joshi (father of actor Sharman Joshi) and Sarita Joshi.

The intricate plot caught Chopra’s attention and next few days were spent fine-tuning the plot to give it a cinematic version.

The play, a murder mystery was itself inspired from another English play titled Signpost to Murder. After having acquired the rights of the play, a film emerged in merely 28 days, something unheard of in those days. The film starring Rajesh Khanna and Nanda proved to be a runaway hit at the box office apart from garnering critical acclaim.

The performance that Rajesh Khanna delivered in the film clearly shows that he approached the role of Dilip in the film without any baggage of stardom. It was also a career defining role for a chiffon clad Nanda. Her effortless, nuanced and controlled performance was a winner all the way.

Coming back to the contemporary Ittefaq, it is repored that Shah Rukh Khan was so intrigued by the film, that during the promotions of Jab Tak Hai Jaan, he interviewed Chopra about it, and specifically asked him about the making of this thriller. Though Shah Rukh Khan has never done full-fledged roles for BR Films banner, he has always been at the forefront whenever it has concerned the family of BR Chopra.

Poster of 2017's Ittefaq.

Shah Rukh Khan did not charge a penny for his special appearance in Bhootnath after he was made aware of the financial mess that BR Films had lately gotten into. Now the superstar has gone a step further by associating his banner with BR Films in remaking the cult thriller.

While on the germ of the film, the idea for remaking Ittefaq was mooted as far as 2009, when Sonakshi Sinha was still contemplating about it. Ravi Chopra’s wife Renu Chopra met the actress at a five star hotel to gauge her mood towards acting in a film under the BR Films banner. Sonakshi was positive about being a part of it.

Meanwhile, Karan Johar’s banner too is associated with the film and it's being said that he helmed the selection of Sidharth Malhotra, Sonakshi Sinha and Akshaye Khanna for the lead roles.

Ittefaq was a film that changed the career of most of the actors and technicians associated with the film. Rajesh Khanna never looked back after this film, and after Aradhana reached a different trajectory. Before the film, Nanda was considered an actress with limited repertoire but Ittefaq made her seem different to filmmakers of the time.

The thought of whiling away time by making a quickie changed the career of Yash Chopra. It made him known as a director who could play with genres. The film also fetched him the trophy of best director Filmfare Award.

Whenever filmmakers have been forced to toy with low budget quickies before starry big budgeted adventures, they have always reaped dividends. Ample time allowed Francis Ford Copolla make the Gene Hackman starrer The Conversation before he embarked on to Godfather II, similarly Robert Zemeckis too had time to make a horror quickie with What Lies Beneath before mounting Cast Away.

Could there be a success formula lying somewhere in Ittefaq?