"why don’t we go for a British-South Asian character?"
The 2016 film Udta Punjab was a success but Riz Ahmed was actually considered for the role of Tommy Singh, not Shahid Kapoor.
As the film completed five years, screenwriter Sudip Sharma revealed details when casting the role of Tommy Singh.
Sudip said that the team was initially hoping to cast Riz Ahmed in the role after watching his performance in Nightcrawler.
He admitted that the filmmakers never thought about casting a Bollywood actor for the role.
Sudip explained: “We also dabbled with the idea of Riz Ahmed at one point of time.
“We never thought of a Bollywood actor for that role (Tommy Singh).
“We thought, why don’t we go for a British-South Asian character?
“Because we really wanted that whole London thing in it. And Riz is a great actor.
“And I remember walking out of Nightcrawler, he had a small-ish part in that film.
“He wasn’t that big a star, so we weren’t being that unrealistic and foolish about it.
“I remember calling Abhishek and saying, ‘Yaar, aap please picture dekho, he’s outstanding and he can really fit Tommy’s part’.
“Wishes can be horses when you’re casting.”
Udta Punjab was directed by Abhishek Chaubey and it also starred Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh.
The film was loosely based on the drug abuse by the youth population in Punjab and the various conspiracies surrounding it.
Shahid Kapoor played Tommy Singh, a young and successful Punjabi musician who lives a luxurious lifestyle but is a cocaine addict.
Shahid’s role as Tommy saw him win numerous awards, including Best Actor (Critics) at the 2017 Filmfare Awards.
On the film’s theme, Shahid had said in 2016:
“I did not know there was an issue like this (drug abuse in Punjab).”
“When I read the script of Udta Punjab, I was worried for my brother, my family and for the youth in general.
“I felt why an honest film that doesn’t colour it not been made.
“Most of the time, as actors we show people the beautiful side of life, but why forget about the real issues.”
On the work front, Shahid will be seen in the sports drama film Jersey. The film is set to release on November 5, 2021.
Meanwhile, Riz Ahmed is coming off the release of Mogul Mowgli. His next film is the sci-fi thriller Invasion.