Find out the real reason behind the makers choosing Anushka as Salman's love interest in Sultan!
The shooting of Salman Khan-starrer Sultan began long before the leading lady was cast for the film. It’s unheard of. When they announced the name of Anushka Sharma for the part of the female wrestler and Salman’s love interest in the film, there was almost a hushed silence of disbelief. Because she just didn’t look the part. Wrestlers have to be big and bulky, right? Wrong. Sultan Director Ali Abbas Zafar says, “It’s a myth that women wrestlers have to be strong and huge. It is completely wrong. Because they fight in a certain weight category. So if you control your weight it’s easier for you to fight and go to a next level.” Ali, stayed in Haryana for three months while researching for the film, and he found that most girls are lean. Here, Ali explains why he was convinced that Anushka was the right choice for the film.
Why did it take Aditya Chopra and you so long to lock the girl opposite Salman?
The girl’s part in this film, it was imperative to get that right. For the longest time we wanted a new girl, I want to be very honest about that. We auditioned a lot of girls and we didn’t find the girl that we wanted for that character. Then we started toying with the idea of casting one of the current actresses who could pull off this character.
Why did you want a new face, initially?
We were looking for a new face because there is a very solid part of romance between Salman and the girl in the film, and I’ve always believed that a fresh pairing always works best for romance. When that didn’t work out, we started looking at actresses who have not worked with Salman. On top of that, a girl also had to physically look a certain way because she is an athlete, and she had to be a good actress who could match the standard of Salman Khan. And if she was a star it’s even better. That is how after almost spending two-three months time figuring out who we want, we found Anushka.
Anushka seemed like the least likely choice to play a wrestler.
That actually was my choice. I think that I kind of pinned all my hopes onto Anushka. Because I just felt that what was new about Anushka was that she had a very unlike wrestler body type. When I was doing research for Sultan and was travelling all over Haryana, I only saw female wrestlers who were very thin and very ripped.
In one of the scenes in the trailer, Anushka is seen fighting a guy. What’s that about?
Few people know that because of the kind of socio-political scenario of Haryana, very few girls are actually allowed to wrestle by their families. And because there aren’t many girls in the sport, in all of the local tournaments, the girls end up fighting the boys. So in the best wrestling competitions that happen there, a boy fights a girl. This is unique only to India If you Google women-wrestling-men-in-Haryana you will find a zillion clips online.
Do these girls win?
Yes. And that is why they keep their weight low. When they fight a guy, they use his weight against him.
Coming back to Anushka...
I thought if I have to introduce a girl with my hero, how different can she be from any other heroine in a Salman Khan film? The idea was to create a character, who is as equal as the protagonist, so that even he feels that she is an equal to him. And because it is a sports film, we gave the same sport to the character, which gives an edge to the character. The way she has pulled through... In the film, when she fights international tournaments, she is very good. Wrestling is a sport of strength, but it’s also a sport of technique. You have to use your mind and you have to use the right technique and Anushka nailed that.
Adi wanted Parineeti for this movie and there was a point where Salman actually said yes to Parineeti, but you wanted Anushka?
All I will say is, when we were boiling down to things, there was a talk of Parineeti, because she had a body type. But I wanted Anushka because I just felt that. At the end of the day, as a director you can only go by your gut and instinct. And I went with that.
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