Deepika replaced Katrina Kaif as Rajinikanth's heroine in Kochadaiyan. It hardly mattered because India's biggest superstar at the age of 62 is still good enough to ensure blockbusters on his own steam, says the report.
For Deepika this is the second time such a story has repeated itself in a matter of weeks, though this time it is the other way round.
Only recently, she was replaced by Angela Jonsson as Salman Khan's screen squeeze in Shirish Kunder's upcoming Kick .
In Bollywood, where almost every commercial actress has started flaunting a uniform image glamour, the game of replacements doesn't end there.
Katrina, who made way for Deepika in Kochadaiyaan citing “no dates” excuse (which normally means her monetary demands were not met), almost lost her superhit Chikni Chameli item jig in Agneepath to Kareena Kapoor.
Agneepath producer Karan Johar's soft spot for Kareena is well known. In fact, for his upcoming co- production venture he has launched with Ekta Kapoor, K. Jo is said to have aggressively campaigned to have Kareena as the film's heroine as opposed to Ekta's choice, Katrina. It came no surprise therefore that Kareena was Karan's personal choice for the Agneepath item.
If it was Katrina who finally got to shake her booty to the beats of Chikni Chameli, it's thanks Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara , her last year's hit with Agneepath hero Hrithik Roshan.
Their chemistry in ZNMD tipped the balance for Kat and soon she was slipping into Chameli's chikni choli s and micro saris.
For an industry that by and large banks on heroes for the magic opening day numbers, the heroine has traditionally been a glam prop.
Posters, promotional campaigns and release strategies have always been woven around the hero of the film.
The bigger the hero, the greater the hoopla surrounding a release.
The Khans, Kapoors, Kumars and the Devgns have to be roped in first, and then it is a matter of signing heroine compatible with the particular hero.
What raises the eyebrows now is how unfailingly replaceable our top heroines have become.
Up until the nineties, despite playing second fiddle to their male costars, top actresses such as Madhuri Dixit, Kajol and Karisma Kapoor at least exuded a distinct set of glam traits that in turn gave each girl a unique image.
The Swap Star generation of heroines, soaked in the formulaic potion of what defines oomph, don't seem to have time or inclination cut a different picture.
Modern-day heroines operate on a couple of set notions in a bid to move in their careers.
First, whatever sells is good enough to sell, so why bother trying to carve your own niche in this era when the competition has become 10 times tougher than what it used to be?
Secondly, these girls are smart enough to know that image is all about starring in the right films with the right co- star.
" They are all hankering for a steady number of hits at the end of the year,” says a veteran filmmaker who gave up direction a while back but is very much still involved with the creative process of films produced under his banner.
Kareena, whom Katrina reportedly beat to grab the item dance, herself stepped in to replace Aishwarya Rai- Bachchan in Madhur Bhandarkar's Heroine in the most talked- about tale of replacement in Bollywood last year.
Ash had shot for Heroine for almost a fortnight when news of her pregnancy broke out in May last year.
Her state of health state meant she wouldn't be able to continue doing the intense and demanding scenes in the film, Madhur was informed. A hapless Madhur's hunt for a new heroine ended with Kareena who incidentally was the original choice for the role.
If Kareena replaced Ash in Heroine , the ex- beauty queen herself has been part of other swap drills.
Rajinikanth's Robot landed in Ash's lap only after the film's makers had considered several actresses including Priyanka Chopra, Asin, Trisha, Nayanthara and Priyamani.
Bollywood heroines don't need to have any sort of USP. Where are the roles that demand a unique image for a mainstream actress?
A film like The Dirty Picture or Fashion , which requires a specialised image, comes once in three years or so. For the rest, even if the heroine has a strong role in a film, one out of half a dozen actresses is good enough to carry it off. We talk of changes in the industry, but all of it is still sadly cosmetic.
"In truth, the name and face of the heroine on the poster of a film doesn't matter and that is the bottomline for male-dominated Bollywood even today,” says a trade analyst.
The mention of male-dominated Bollywood, of course, brings in the all- important issue of camps. Scripts are known to routinely change hands from one male star to another and every time the hero changes, chances are he would like to bring in a heroine of his choice.
Priyanka Chopra, for instance, was all set to play the romantic lead in the Sajid Nadiadwala- produced celluloid interpretation of Chetan Bhagat's novel 2 States as long as her “ good friend” Shah Rukh Khan was to play the hero of the film. The buzz doing the rounds at that point was that Vishal Bhardwaj would direct.
Post Vishal's 7 Khoon Maaf debacle and SRK's Ra. One no-show, producer Nadiadwala must have had other ideas.
Soon, Imtiaz Ali had taken over the direction of 2 States with his Rockstar hero Ranbir Kapoor essaying the lead role. Ranbir already has Anurag Basu's Barfi coming up with Priyanka, so his guideline was clear- cut. The heroine had to be anyone but Priyanka. Imtiaz, last heard, is hunting for a fresh face.
The 40- plus superstars who rule Bollywood are routinely known to dictate terms when it comes to the casting of heroines just as they dominate every other aspect of the filmmaking process.
The Khans, who have been towering over all for over two decades now, are especially known to prefer younger actresses ( as also young playback voices) since it helps them maintain a younger screen age. Salman's reason of insisting on debutante Angela Jonsson as his heroine in Kick seems obvious.
The 46-year-old superstar evidently needs much more than the Botoxed prescription of beef to be in sync with Gen Now tastes.
At 21, Angela provides the perfect youthful foil of freshness for Bollywood's Khan of the hour, just as 23- year- old Sonakshi Sinha did a couple of years ago in Dabangg .