The Akshay Kumar-Shahrukh Khan rivalry appears to have just got hotter. SRK claims that Billoo Barber, his next home production, directed by Priyadarshan, was initially offered to Akshay but the Khiladi refused it. Everyone knows that Akshay is one of Priyan's favourite actors so he was the first choice. But when Akki declined, SRK grabbed it.
Shahrukh admits, "Billoo Barber was offered to Akshay Kumar but he turned it down. Priyan was doing another film with me. Then he spoke to me about Billoo Barber and asked me if I would do the 10-day role in the film. I asked him to narrate the story. I told him that I would not only act in it but even produce it."
The actor says he simply loved the script. "It's a story based on Krishna and his friend Sudama. It's a very sweet story. The thought is nice. But it's not fair to call it a Shahrukh Khan film. It is about Irrfan Khan, his wife and two kids. Billoo Barber is a remake of a Malayalam film (Kadha Parayaumbol) and has been rewritten by the same writer. The Hindi rights are with us while the Tamil rights are with Rajinikanth. In Malayalam it was made with Mammooty."
About the film's cast and credits, SRK says, "The film has Irrfan Khan, Lara Dutta, Om Puri, Rajpal Yadav and Asrani Sir besides myself. Kareena has done a guest appearance. Deepika will also do a guest appearance and there might be another heroine. Music is by Pritam and lyrics by Gulzar."
When asked about Ameesha Patel and Tabu turning down the film, Shahrukh points out, "I have been reading about all the actresses refusing the project but I would never lie to an actor to get them to do the role. I told Priyan Sir to tell them that it is not the greatest role in the world; but it is not a role that will go unnoticed. I told this to Urmila, Manisha, Juhi... Amisha didn't do the role because we thought she looks too young to play a mother with Irrfan. It wasn't like she left it or we threw her out. Tabu refused because she didn't like the role. Vidya (Balan) said no because she did not want to play a mother to two grown-up children. But the kids are 10 and 12 year olds they are not my age!"
I had it first: Akshay Kumar
Continues Shahrukh, "When I sat down with Lara, I told her that you do certain roles because of the film and she agreed. Juhi and Rani have often told me 'I don't have a great role in the film, I am just doing the film because it"s a very sweet film.' I believe in that... if the product is really good, everybody shines. I could be great in a film, but if it is not good, then it doesn't work. I really wanted to make Billoo Barber and Insha Allah we will release it by September."
However a source close to Akshay denies that he was offered Billoo Barber. "Priyan might have thought of approaching Akshay but he definitely did not offer it to him."