The Hollywood classic cult film, The Godfather, has been an inspiration to many Bollywood films. One such film was Dharmatma. This Hindi film was made 48 years ago. It was released on April 30, 1975. The hero and director of the film was none other than Feroz Khan. Did you know superstar Rajesh Khanna was supposed to be the lead in Dharmatma? As per reports, Rajesh Khanna was approached by Feroz Khan; both were in talks for Dharmatma, but for some reason, the casting was not coming through. Reports claim that since Rajesh Khanna was a superstar, Feroz wanted to cast him for the film’s success. Finally, reports suggest that Feroz Khan went ahead without Rajesh Khanna. The reason is that Feroz apparently believed that had the film been a hit, all the credit would have gone to Rajesh Khanna. Feroz Khan decided to drop him and became the lead himself. By doing this, he reportedly wanted to break Rajesh Khanna’s pride. There has been no confirmation of these rumours.
Feroz Khan had no one in Bollywood who helped him in his career. He started his career with low-budget films. Later, to establish himself and have a firm footing as a leading actor, he stepped into direction. His directorial debut was Apradh, which was released in 1971. He was also the lead of the film and was seen opposite actress Mumtaz. After that, Feroz Khan directed and acted in Dharmatma.
Dharmatma was the first Indian movie which was shot in Afghanistan. It became a superhit film and was Feroz Khan’s first successful film as a director and producer. The cast of the film also included Hema Malini, Rekha, Farida Jalal, Ranjeet, and Danny Denzongpa.
Reports suggest that the role of Gabbar in Sholay went to Amjad Khan because of this film. Danny Denzongpa was finalised for the role of Gabbar initially. Danny had to leave the film due to his commitments for Feroz Khan’s Dharmatma. The role of Gabbar was then offered to Amjad Khan. Director Ramesh Sippy described how he came to finalise Amjad for the role in an earlier interview. He said, “I remember I saw an act of his (Amjad Khan). His face, personality, voice everything seemed right. We asked him to grow a beard, dressed him, and took pictures. He looked just right for the part”.
In the film Dharmatma, the role of Rekha was first offered to Zeenat Aman by Feroz Khan. But she reportedly declined it by saying she doesn’t want to do supporting roles.