Director Shoojit Sircar's "Sardar Udham" was earlier set to feature Irrfan Khan in the title role and producer Ronnie Lahiri has revealed that the late actor's son Babil was being considered to play the younger version of the unsung revolutionary at one point of time. The makers had first cast Khan for the biopic on Sardar Udham Singh, the freedom fighter, who assassinated Michael O'Dwyer, the former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab in British India in 1940, to avenge the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Vicky Kaushal was eventually roped in to play the older version titular character in the film, slated to be released on Amazon Prime Video on October 16. Khan, who passed away last year in April after a two year-long battle with a rare form of cancer, had exited the film owing to his ill health.
"I saw Babil when he was in school. Irrfan wanted us to meet because there was a point where for this film ('Sardar Udham'), he was supposed to play a younger version for Irrfan sir," Lahiri told PTI, without divulging further details.
In June, Lahiri, Sircar's producing partner, had shared the news of their collaboration with Babil on a separate project via social media. The details of the same have been kept under wraps.
"So, there is something called destiny. That’s how we met him when he was a shy school kid and then we met him, he is a grown-up and a sweet boy," the producer added.
For Sircar, collaborating with Babil brought him a moment of peace and relief as the late actor and director, who worked on the 2015 acclaimed comedy drama "Piku", shared a bond that transcended professional boundaries. The director recalled how Khan, 54, was concerned about his son's career.
Talking about working with Babil, Sircar said, "It was quite a moment. And finally, a weight... bhoj utar gaya (seems to have lifted)."
"We felt quite relieved that it happened. And when I was talking to Irrfan before he went away… he was not worried (as such) about Babil. Babil is the one who was doing many things, he had many ideas in his mind. He was studying filmmaking in London at a university.
"He was generally very silent but he was quite mad in terms of his ideas. So, as a father he was naturally a little worried also so it gave me quite of a peace that I have done something with Babil," he added.
The director said he is looking forward to collaborating with Babil on more projects in the future. "Now, Babil is also quite focused, he is seriously pursuing film acting. I hope the connection will be there with him," he added.
Babil is set to make his acting debut with the Netflix film "Qala", directed by Anvita Dutt and also featuring "Bulbbul" star Tripti Dimri.