Maverick Bollywood director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra can create magic on screen through his films, and his biography is doing the same with some startling revelations that has created a buzz among fans — one being that Hollywood star Daniel Craig had auditioned for one of his films.
In his book ‘The Stranger in the Mirror’, Mehra has talked about Craig auditioning for the role of James McKinley in ‘Rang De Basanti’. The Bollywood film, which starred Aamir Khan, Siddharth, Kunal Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Atul Kulkarni and Soha Ali Khan as college students who take on the system following the death of their friend played by R Madhavan, had scenes interspersing their struggles with India’s battle for independence with the stars portraying freedom fighters in flashbacks.
“I remember vividly that one of the people who auditioned for the part of James McKinley, the young jailer who walks Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev to be hanged, was none other than current James Bond, Daniel Craig,” Mehra reveals at one point in his book.
“Daniel Craig was my first choice but he requested if we could allow some time as he was also being considered to be the next James Bond. The rest, as they say, is history,” Mehra further added.
‘Rang De Basanti’ released in 2006 and went on to become a huge box office success, with Mehra’s efforts being recognised by India, that selected the film as the country’s official entry to the Academy Awards that year.
At the time Craig was a relative unknown in Hollywood, with 2001’s ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ his biggest commercial success. It was in 2005 that Craig was contacted by Eon Productions to portray super spy James Bond. Initially, he was unsure about the role when first offered but decided to take it on with ‘Casino Royale’ coming out on November 14, 2006.
Craig’s last appearance as 007 will feature later this year with ‘No Time To Die’, out in the UAE in October.
In his biography, Mehra also revealed that he had almost finalised Peter Gabriel, one of the founding members of the British rock band Genesis, to work on ‘Rang De Basanti’, but something inside him told him to choose music maestro AR Rahman instead.
“The music of RDB was the soul of the film; the songs AR created became de facto national anthems,” he says in the book.
‘The Stranger in the Mirror’ is co-written by marketer-author Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta and is out now.