Bollywood luminary Raveena Tandon recently unveiled insights into her decision to decline the iconic “Chaiyya Chaiyya” opposite Shah Rukh Khan, shedding light on her apprehensions regarding being typecast in the industry.
Speaking to BBC’s Haroon Rashid, Tandon reminisced about the offer she received for the legendary song, now synonymous with Malaika Arora’s performance. Reflecting on her career trajectory after the success of “Sheher Ki Ladki,” she recalled Shah Rukh Khan expressing the desire for her to collaborate with acclaimed director Mani Ratnam. However, Tandon found herself grappling with the fear of being pigeonholed into item numbers, a prevalent concern in the Bollywood of yesteryears.
“I had just done Sheher Ki Ladki, right? And it had become a very big hit. Organically, Chaiyya Chaiyya came to me and I remember SRK saying that ‘Mani sir wants to talk to you because he wants you to do the song for us’,” she recounted.
Despite recognizing the song’s undeniable allure and acknowledging its enduring legacy, Tandon admitted to grappling with the dilemma of perpetuating stereotypes in the industry. “I knew the song was rock solid. There were no two ways, you just had to hear the song and completely fall in love with it. It’s actually a difficult spot. I believe in the parallel life kind of thing,” she reflected.
Moreover, Tandon disclosed that she declined other films alongside Shah Rukh Khan, including “Darr,” “Desi Babu English Men,” and “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,” citing similar concerns about typecasting. However, she emphasized her admiration for Khan, describing him as “one of the warmest people on this planet.”
Choreographer Farah Khan had previously unveiled that Shilpa Shetty and Shilpa Shirodkar were among the actresses considered for “Chaiyya Chaiyya.” Speaking on the show “Moving in With Malaika,” Khan revealed, “Malaika was nowhere on the radar. We had approached Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Shilpa Shirodkar and two or three other people. One feared the prospect of climbing on top of the train, one was not available.”
Tandon’s revelations provide a glimpse into the nuanced decisions and challenges faced by actors navigating the intricacies of the Bollywood film industry. Her candid reflections underscore the complexities inherent in balancing artistic integrity with career opportunities in the ever-evolving landscape of Indian cinema.