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15 years of Hum Tum: When Vivek Oberoi and Hrithik Roshan said ‘no’ and Saif Ali Khan got his first solo hit and a National Award

‘Hum Tum’ completes fifteen years of its release today. The film would always be important for several people associated with it but there are two people who benefited hugely from it – director Kunal Kohli and lead actor Saif Ali Khan. Kunal had earlier directed the Hritihik Roshan – Rani Mukerji – Kareena Kapoor Khan starrer ‘Mujhse Dosti Karoge’, a frothy romantic film which was a huge success overseas but failed to register an impact at the domestic box-office. ‘Hum Tum’ helped him establish himself as a director in the industry.

While Saif was active as an actor in films for more than a decade by then (he made his acting debut in ‘Aashiq Awara’ in 1992), he was yet to deliver a true-blue commercial hit as a solo hero. In twelve years, he had a few successes like ‘Ye Dillagi’, ‘Main Khiladi Tu Anari’, ‘Hum Saath-Saath Hain’, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, among others but those were multi-starrers. ‘Hum Tum’ not only turned out to be his first hit as a solo lead, it also fetched him his first National Award for Best Actor.

Interestingly, Saif was not the first choice for the film. Aditya Chopra was keen on casting Vivek Oberoi and Rani Mukerji for the film, who had earlier delivered a hit together in ‘Saathiya’. Incidentally, ‘Saathiya’ was presented by Yash Raj Films. Vivek said a ‘yes’ and then a ‘no’ to the film which resulted in the makers approaching Hrithik, who also could not do the film for some reason.

Having seen his recent performances in films like ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’, Aditya Chopra was confident about Saif pulling off the character of the urban, suave Karan Kapoor but Kunal Kohli had his reservations. Saif had not delivered a solo hit by then and he was not a huge star. However, Kunal decided to place his faith in Chopra’s vision and the rest, as they say, is history.

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