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“‘Hero’ made Jackie and Meenakshi into overnight stars but “the flute” was the real hero in the film” – Subhash Ghai

Legendary filmmaker Subhash Ghai recalls the making of his timeless classic, Hero that changed the fortune of Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Sheshadri

By Manishaa R

Thirty five years after it was first launched on 24th November, 1982, filmmaker Subhash Ghai is all set to re-release the Jackie Shroff-Meenakshi Sheshadri starrer, Hero at his New Excelsior Cinema. The legendary filmmaker went down memory lane and reminisced how he decided to cast little-known actors, Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Sheshadri and made them overnight stars and how the flute was the actual hero of the film.

According to Ghai, Jackie Shroff was a total novice in acting when he cast him in the role of a flamboyant goon, who had a passion for playing the flute, “Jackie clearly told me that he was not well-versed with acting.  He had done Swami Dada prior to that but I decided to audition him over a long video chat. It was the raw honesty on his face that impressed me and I was convinced that I could mould him into a romantic action-hero,” Ghai recalled

As for Meenakshi Sheshadri, Ghai was not convinced that she would be the idea heroine for his film, when saw the rushes of her film, Painter Babu, which she had done freshly after she was crowned, Miss India, “I had my own doubt whether she could play the role of the beautiful young girl, who was willing to give up everything for love. But I changed my mind when I met her in person and saw the determination in her eyes. I signed her soon after when I learnt that she was a trained Bharat Natyam dancer since I needed a skilled dancer for the role in the film,” Ghai stated.

However Ghai pointed out that it was the “timeless music” and “the flute passage” that were the actual stars of the film, “It was outlined from the very beginning in the script that the Flute were the heroes of the film, which formed the basis of the intense romance between two passionate lovers, “When I told the story of my film to Laxmikant Pyarelal, they wanted it to be a musical score to be remembered for times immemorial. The immortal flute passage was subsequently composed by Pyarelal-ji on piano, after which renowned flute player, Hariprasad Chaurasia took over and played it. That’s how one of the greatest musical scores of that time was born that launched Jackie Shroff as the romantic star,” Ghai said, adding that he decided to cast, Bharat Bhushan in the role of Jackie Shroff’s father, who was passionate about the flute, “I had seen Bharat Bhushan in Phagun and Baiju Bawra and I felt he would be perfect for the role. Likewise, I decided to cast several veteran stars from the 50s and 60s,” he said.

The immortal flute passage was subsequently composed by Pyarelal-ji on piano, after which renowned flute player, Hariprasad Chaurasia took over and played it. That’s how one of the greatest musical scores of that time was born

The film subsequently went on to create history at the box-office. According to Subhash Ghai, there are some films that live fresh in the minds of the audiences, even after several years and Hero was one such film, “While Jackie continues to have a strong penchant for the flute and this music, Meenakshi can never forget that it was this landmark film in her career, for which she is best remembered even today in America. The music of the film continues to resonate even today. Some films never die and this is one of them. I am glad I made it for the movie-going audiences to treasure,” he quipped.

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