Screenwriter Sudip Sharma has revealed an unknown fact about his 2016 film, Udta Punjab.
Upon marking five years of the film, Sudip opened up about the time he was in the process of casting for the role of Tommy Singh. He said that he was initially hoping to cast actor Riz Ahmed in the role that eventually went to Shahid Kapoor.
After watching Riz’s performance in the Nightcrawler, Sudip shared how he and his team couldn’t even think about casting a Bollywood actor for the film.
Speaking to Film Companion, he recalled, "We also dabbled with the idea of Riz Ahmed at one point of time. We never thought of a Bollywood actor for that role (Tommy Singh). We thought, why don’t we go for a British-South Asian character? Because we really wanted that whole London thing in it and Riz is a great actor.”
He added, “And I remember walking out of Nightcrawler – he had a small-ish part in that film. He wasn’t that big a star, so we weren’t being that unrealistic and foolish about it. I remember calling Abhishek and saying, ‘Yaar, aap please picture dekho, he’s outstanding and he can really fit Tommy’s part.’ Wishes can be horses when you’re casting."
Udta Punjab was director Abhishek Chaubey's third film after Ishqiya and Dedh Ishqiya. It also starred Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh. The film was about the drug menace in Punjab and Shahid played a junkie rockstar.
Speaking about the film's theme – according to the Hindustan Times – Shahid had said in 2016, "I did not know there was an issue like this (drug abuse in Punjab). When I read the script of Udta Punjab I was worried for my brother, my family and for the youth in general.”
He went on to ask, “Most of the time, as actors, we show people the beautiful side of life but why forget about the real issues?” Shahid will be seen in Jersey next, as well as Raj and DK's upcoming Amazon web series. He was last seen in 2019's Kabir Singh.
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