Zanjeer: Sanjay Dutt Snags ‘Sher Khan’ From Sonu Sood

Sanjay Dutt with wife Manyata Dutt
Sanjay Dutt with wife Manyata Dutt

Sonu Sood was supposed to play ‘Sher Khan’ for both the Hindi and Telugu versions of ‘Zanjeer’. He had even begun to work on his ‘Sher Khan’ look. Turns out, Sanjay Dutt is doing the role after all.

In August, it was reported that Sanjay Dutt would be playing the iconic Pathan Sher Khan in Apoorva Lakhia’s remake of Prakash Mehra’s ‘Zanjeer’.

At that time Dutt and his faithful team stoutly denied the reports and even accused the remakers of cashing in on his name prematurely. Dutt, we hear, was influenced by some of his friends and well-wishers against doing the film.

Uncertain about the star’s intentions, the makers of the neo-Zanjeer went and negotiated with Sonu Sood to play Sher Khan. The combination of Sonu Sood who is a major force in Telugu cinema, and Telugu superstar Ramcharan Teja made huge box office sense in the South.

Sonu was supposed to do both the Hindi and Telugu versions of ‘Zanjeer’. He had even begun to work on his ‘Sher Khan’ look.

Turns out, Sanjay Dutt is doing the role after all.

On Wednesday morning the star finally signed on the dotted line and hopped on board to do the part. As for Sonu, he is still playing Sher Khan, but only in the Telugu version of the film.

Jubilant, director Apoorva Lakhia said, “I’ve worked with Sanju Sir before in Shootout At Lokhandwala and we hit it off immediately. I keenly wanted him to play Pran Saab’s role in ‘Zanjeer’. I couldn’t see anyone else from the contemporary actors playing Sher Khan. Now after many uncertainties Sanju Sir is finally doing the role. I think this is the first time that he plays a Pathan. We’ll gibve him a really striking look.”

About Sonu Sood Lakhia says, “Sonu is a fine human being and a gentleman. We can’t possibly let him down. And we won’t. He will be playing Sher Khan in the Telugu version of ‘Zanjeer’. Ramcharan Tejaa and Sonu Sood are both names to reckon with in Telugu cinema. They’ll be coming together in my film for the first time.”

As for Pran’s iconic ‘Qawwalli Yaari hai imaan mera’ from ‘Zanjeer’, it won’t feature in the neo-Zanjeer. “We’re working on an entirely new Qawwalli and look for Sanju Sir,” informs Lakhia.

Adds producer Amit Mehra, “I can’t tell you how excited I am about having Sanju Sir on board. It’s a dream come true. I was just a kid when he worked with my dad (producer-director Prakash Mehra) in ‘Imaandar’ and ‘Mohabbat Ke Dushman’. Sanju Sir used to take me and my brother on drives in his fancy wheels. We hero-worshiped him. And now to be working with him…wow!”

Adds the neo-Zanjeer’s leading man Ramcharan Teja, “We’re all very happy to have Sanju Baba on board. Specially me. Sanju Sir and I met a few times recently in Hyderabad when he was here to shoot for the Hindi remake of ‘Swamy’. We did speak about ‘Zanjeer’ and how it was shaping up. I mentioned to him that the director Apoorva Lakhia was still searching for the perfect ‘Sher Khan’. Now I hear Sanju Sir is playing ‘Sher Khan’. Nobody except he could justify ‘Sher Khan’s personality to today’s audience. I am glad we waited for Sanju Sir to play this character.”