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Right from the time he conceived his project Salaam Memsaab, Asrani has had to surmount various obstacles in one form or the other all through the way. It was on the sets of his own Chala Murari Hero Ban Ne that the idea struck him to make Salaam Memsaab. The producer of Ghadi Ke Do Haath had agreed to make Salaam Memsaab with Asrani as the director and also asked him to finalize the casting of the film of his own accord.And since Asrani is obsessed with the idea of stripping himself of his image of a clumsy comedian, no wonder he cast himself in the leading role in Salaam Memsaab. He narrated the story to Bindiya Goswami on the sets of his Chala Murari Hero Ban Ne and immediately she flipped for the story. And it was decided that she will work opposite Asrani when he launched Salaam Memsaab. However, when Salaam Memsaab was launched, it was Zarina Wahab, who was cast opposite Asrani and not Bindiya Goswami as was planned originally. And quite naturally, Bindiya was damn peeved about the whole thing. According to her, the producers told her that the financiers were not ready to let Asrani cast Bindiya as the leading lady in Salaam Memsaab for the simple reason that the film needed a heroine who could dance pretty well and hence Bindiya couldn't obviously fit the bill. Thanks to the tuning that was there between Asrani and Bindiya, Asrani even threatened to walk out of the film if instead of Bindiya, Zarina was cast in the film, according to Bindiya. "I advised Asraniji to go ahead with the project with Zarina and not to let his heart rule his brain. After all, it was a question of his career". Bindiya quipped when I broached the topic to her.Unlike any other film, Salaam Memsaab was launched on the footpath facing the gateway of India when Asrani, his wife Manju, Ranjeet and Zarina Wahab faced the camera with B.R. Chopra and Hema Malini's mother Smt Jaya Chakravarthi gracing the occasion with their presence. And Asrani had a nonstop 45 days shooting schedule in and around the Gateway of India and The Hotel Oberoi Sheraton. And thanks to his Salaam Memsaab, Asrani had to let several prestigious assignments slip through his hands as he had no dates to spare till Salaam Memsaab was complete. Zarina Wahab also had allotted to him continuous dates and the shooting of the film went on in full swing unhampered by any obstacle. A fashion show for the film was picturised at The Hotel Oberoi Sheraton when Asrani was fortunate enough to get models for the asking for the shooting without any hassles. A textile concern even came forward to bear the expenses of the shooting of the fashion show for an important scene in the film provided the show flaunted the name of the fabrics. Asrani was game for it.Then Asrani found himself in hot waters. One L.D. Manohar, who was working with the late director Sikandar Khanna as the assistant director on the sets of Umar Qaid went ahead and complained to the Writer's Association that he had already sold the story of Asrani's film to producer director Mohan Bijlani. According to Manohar, Mohan Bijlani was planning to make the film when Asrani launched the film. Asrani was in a dilemma. He didn't know what to do. When I broached the topic of plagiarisation of the story of Salaam Memsaab to him, Asrani had told me that Manohar had registered a story called Shoeshine Boys with the Indian Film Writer's Association five years ago. "Manohar claims to have narrated to me the story of Salaam Memsaab when actually it was I who had conceived the entire subject. He has complained that it was on the sets of Umar Qaid that he had narrated the story of the entire film to me when he was assisting the late Sikandar Khanna. When we asked him if he could produce any witness, he couldn't because I had never even seen him before."And let me tell you another thing. Five years ago, when he claims to have narrated to me the story of Salaam Memsaab, was I a producer or a director? I was only a clumsy comedian at that time. Where was the need for him to narrate the entire story of a film which another producer had proposed to make to me? Manohar has complained to the Writer's Association that Asrani should be restrained from going ahead with the shooting of Salaam Memsaab till the dispute was settled among the two parties." However, clever that Asrani is, by the time the matter was taken up by the Association, he had already completed the shooting schedule of the entire film. "I also had registered the story of the film with the Association. If I had lifted Manohar's story, wouldn't I have even told right then and there when I registered my story with the Association"? Now Asrani does have a point there.
The dispute hasn't yet been settled, but Asrani is confident of winning the case because everything is in his favor. But yet another setback was due for him when there arose some misunderstanding between him and Zarina, in spite of the fact that both did vibe rather very well with each other throughout the shooting of Salaam Memsaab.Luckily for Asrani, it cropped up after he had completed the shooting of Salaam Memsaab. Zarina Wahab walked out of Ramesh Meer's Ghadbad Ghotala, in which she had been teamed opposite Asrani, who was playing a double role. No wonder they say familiarity breeds contempt. Asrani and Zarina were tuning so well during the making of Salaam Memsaab that the split between Zarina Wahab and her then boy friend Ramesh Narang was reportedly caused only because of the rumored 'thing' that was going on between Asrani and Zarina.Now that Zarina has walked out of Asrani and Ghadbad Ghotala, she is having only one film with Asrani- Do Hawaladar which went on the floors long before even Salaam Memsaab started. When Ramesh Meer went on the sets of Do Hawaldar to meet Asrani and Zarina and discuss about the dates for Ghadbad Ghotala to his dismay he found them sitting aloof from each other. According to him, there is no love lost between the two of them today. This makes me think aloud. Is Asrani's film Salaam Memsaab jinxed? Here's hoping he is able to complete the patch work of the film and what's more, release it See more