When Amitabh Bachchan put an ‘uncomfortable’ Smita Patil at ease during Namak Halal: ‘With a lot of personal persuasion…’

It has been forty years since Prakash Mehra directorial Namak Halaal, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Smita Patil and Parveen Babi hit the screen. And while there are many trivia associated with the making of this iconic feature, and its even more iconic soundtrack, perhaps the one people remember the most is when the late Smita Patil was asked to lip-sync and dance to “Aaj Rapat Jaye.”

It was no secret that Patil was a talented actor, who was (and is) largely known for her stellar performances in independent, arthouse cinema. She was a ‘serious’ actor who was attempting something new with Namak Halaal. Little did she know that she would not only have to be more dramatic than usual in the 1982 movie, but also match steps with Amitabh Bachchan while lip-syncing to an obviously intimate song in the rain.

Suffice to say, Patil was not comfortable with the whole idea.

However, it is said that due to Amitabh Bachchan’s efforts to put her at ease, Smita was finally able to give her best in that number. In fact, Big B once himself retold this story in parts in one of his earlier blog entries. “‘Namak Halal’ celebrates 34 years…with the exceptional Smita Patil, who was so uncomfortable during the shooting of the entire film because she just could not understand why she was asked to do what she was asked to do in the film. But she did it with a lot of personal persuasion from me and it came out fine. She was gentle and frail but stronger than anything you could ever encounter in a woman…truly a gift we lost we never should have,” the Bollywood superstar had penned in his blog at the time.

One of the primary reasons why Namak Halaal is still in popular consciousness is because of its timeless soundtrack composed by Disco King Bappi Lahiri. All its songs were a big sensation. And although the result turned out to be more than fine, the making of these tracks were not always the smoothest. Once, when Lahiri had pitched the song “Pag Ghunghroo” to his uncle and legendary singer Kishore Kumar, the artiste had apparently gotten angry with the composer after realising it was a 12-minute song. “What is this?” Kishore had asked Lahiri, the latter revealed in an earlier interview to Film Companion.

But all is well that ends well, clearly. Not only did the music of the film eventually became a big hit with the masses, the movie itself went on to mint big bucks at the ticket counter, becoming the third highest grossing movie of 1982, earning an impressive 120 million dollars.

Namak Halaal can be streamed on YouTube, Voot and Amazon Prime Video. 

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