Irrfan Khan Was The First Choice to Play Thackeray, Not Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Thackeray movie starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Amrita Rao in the lead roles recently released, ahead of Republic Day. And it has been receiving mixed reviews from the critics and audiences alike. The movie showcases the controversial life of a cartoonist Balasaheb Thackeray to being one of Maharashtra’s biggest politicians and establishing his own party, Shiv Sena.

Thackeray Nawazuddin Siddiqui Irrfan Khan

The trailer of the movie had got people excited because of Nawaz’s striking resemblance to the man he was playing in the biopic. But in an interview with MidDay, casting director of the movie, Rohan Mapuskar revealed that Irrfan wasn’t their first choice for the role. In fact, they were first considering Irrfan Khan to play Thackeray and if things had worked their way, we would have seen Irrfan playing the controversial politician on the big screen. But things didn’t work out, for Irrfan had other commitments. Rohan said,

Thackeray Nawazuddin Siddiqui Irrfan Khan

“Director Abhijit Panse, Sanjay Raut and I were brainstorming on who we’d like to cast and were contemplating [roping in] Irrfan. We had [superimposed] his image to see if it matched that of Mr Thackeray, and were convinced. Irrfan, who was busy with another film, said he could only consider it after two to three months.”

Thackeray Nawazuddin Siddiqui Irrfan Khan
Rohan Mapuskar

Rohan also added that it was the writer and producer of the movie, Sanjay Raut who brought the idea of roping in Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He added,

“He told us that during certain pandals [rallies], Mr Thackeray would be seated with the karyakartas on the floor. Following a subsequent discussion, we felt that Nawaz would be a better choice for the depiction of such scenes when compared to Irrfan. Zeroing in on him was a consensual decision.”

Thackeray Nawazuddin Siddiqui Irrfan Khan

Not just Nawaz, filmmakers had other plans for Balasaheb’s wife, Meena Tai as well. Amrita Rao was finalised to play the role of Meena Thackeray but initially, they had approached Rasika Dugal of Mirzapur fame for the role. But since the viewers had seen them paired opposite each other in Nandita Das’ Manto, and the makers wanted a fresh pairing, they dropped the idea of casting her. After ruling Duggal out, they went to Amrita Rao who reminded them of Meena Tai more. Rohan further added,

Thackeray Nawazuddin Siddiqui Irrfan Khan

“We had arrived a day prior than scheduled to meet Amrita for the film, despite which she re-organised her meetings to talk to us, instead of [turning us away]. This act reminded me of how maasaheb [Meena] would treat her workers, ensuring that she fed them, no matter when they arrived to meet her.”

Thackeray Nawazuddin Siddiqui Irrfan Khan

Though the lead actors weren’t the first choice to play the characters, they fit really well. Nawaz in an interview shared how he himself is obliged to be a part of such a film. He said,

“More than myself, I appreciate Shiv Sena that they approached me for the role. That’s a huge thing. I am just an actor. I will anyway sit down with my director to come up with the best outcome but it is a huge deal that these people thought of me in the first place.”

The movie is running in theatres now. Watch it and decide whether Nawaz is better or Irrfan would have been!


Ayushi Jain

The Weirder Twin. Socially Awkward Cancerian. Loves words, not much when spoken. Tends to Doodle. Mostly found binging shows and movies. And is a big Time Procrastinator!
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