The lead role of Aarti Devi was offered to actressVyjayanthimala, who refused as she was fazed by physical resemblance of her character with Indira Gandhi.

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Aandhi is a 1975 political drama film starringSanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen, and directed byGulzar.

The lead role of Aarti Devi was offered to actressVyjayanthimala, who refused as she was fazed by physical resemblance of her character with Indira Gandhi. Later in 2011, she recounted Aandhi as one of few films she regretted not doing besides Mr and Mrs 55 (1955) by Guru Dutt and Bandini (1963) by Bimal Roy, “I admired Indiraji (Gandhi) so much so that I got cold feet when the role was offered to me.”

In the early 1960s, director Gulzar had approached Suchitra Sen, with the screenplay for a film to be produced by Sohanlal Kanwar, however, when she suggested some changes which Gulzar didn’t agree upon, the film never got made. For film Aandhi producer J. Om Prakash insisted upon Gulzar to approach Sen again and actors Sanjeev Kumar was also keen on working with Sen. This time when the new script was done, Gulzar went to meet her in Kolkata, she agreed without any script issues, resulting in a casting coup. In fact, Sen now promised Gulzar to not suggest any changes, and she stuck to her promise all through the filming. For the role Aarti Devi’s estranged husband Sanjeev Kumar was already cast, who had previously worked in Gulzar’s Koshish (1973), again as an older man. Kumar one of finest actors of his generation went to collaborate with Gulzar on numerous films, like Mausam (1975), Angoor (1981) and Namkeen (1982).

Like most of Gulzar’s films, including Mausam and Ijaazat, the narrative of Aandhi also unfolds through various flashbacks. The film was almost shot together with Mausam, with Sanjeev Kumar playing the lead of an old man in both the films. Though Aandhi was released first, it ran into political controversy and portions of it has to be reshot, meanwhile, Mausam was completed and released. The songs of the film were shot at various locations in Jammu and Kashmir state, like “Tum Aa Gaye Ho” was shot around Pari Mahal gardens in Srinagar, the classic “Tere Bina Zindagi Se” at the ruined 7th-8th century Martand Sun Temple, near Anantnag, while “Is Mod Se Jaate Hai” was shot at Pahalgam. Most of the songs have architectural ruins as a backdrop, depicting brokeness. Gulzar’s family, wife actress Raakhee and daughter young Meghna Gulzar accompanied him on the shooting in Kashmir, however upon the return Rakhee and Gulzar separated.

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