Madhubala instead of Waheeda

Remember Pyaasa, the story of a writer and Gulabo which was played by Guru Dutt and Waheeda? Well, turns out that it could have turned out quite differently had Guru Dutt abandoned the lead role.

Dutt wanted someone else to take the role for two reasons. One, he thought himself not to be good enough, simply put. And two, he wanted to focus all his attention on directing the film. He was very keen on taking Dilip Kumar, who was at the top of the industry at the time and would have played out the character beautifully, without a doubt. This despite the fact that a considerable length of the film had already been shot with him in the lead.

Such a perfectionist was he, that he made no compromises on the quality of his films. The story as narrated to Dilip Saab who argued that Gulabo’s role shouldn’t be so important, the heroine’s should be. Of course, he wanted Madhubala to play the heroine instead of Mala Sinha, who eventually played the role.

Dilip Kumar argued quite a bit with Abrar Alvi, the scriptwriter, but Alvi wouldn’t hear of it, and Kumar had to give in.

So it was Waheeda, afterall who played Gulabo and not Madhubala.

Although Dilip Kumar agreed to play the hero, he never turned up on the sets on the day the shoot was to begin. No one knows why, till date.

More trivia: While Waheeda replaced Madhubala, the role of Mala Sinha was originally offered to Nargis. Because the two actress couldn’t arrange the dates, they were eventually given to these two.

Pyaasa was also the last time the famous duo S.D Burman and Sahir Ludhianvi worked together.

9 thoughts on “Madhubala instead of Waheeda

  1. From what I heard, Dilip Kumar refused Pyaasa due to its similarity with Devdas, triangular affair, succumbing to alcohol & deep sadness…though we know it was just looking familiar in script, but on screen, It was different world altogether. Right ?

  2. It was so much more that a triangular affair, I don’t think he ever realized just how different it would turn out šŸ™‚ But what surprises me is that Dilip Kumar himself went on to personify the image of the ‘tragic hero’, then why would he let go of this chance?

  3. Cool post! I never knew that Dilip Kumar was supposed to be in Pyaasa instead of Guru Dutt. šŸ˜‰

    By the way, my name is Sasha, and I just stumbled across your blog from Dustedoff’s, because I saw the links. I was reading some posts, and wow, you sure do know a lot about Bollywood! Thanks for sharing all that info!

    • Hi Sasha, welcome and thank you for the compliment. I am a total amateur when it comes to old Hindi films so most of this isn’t first-hand knowledge but more of research, quoting from other blogs, reading books and watching films! I started very recently šŸ™‚ But thanks anyway! I am glad you enjoyed reading the post!
      Drop in again šŸ™‚

      • I just started recently too, but you get to read books and all! I’m 13, and no one in my family can really understand why I like old Hindi films. šŸ˜› So I only get three films per month (which are almost always Dev’s films), and I can’t read or write Hindi. I’m going to have to rely on your blog to get my facts straight! šŸ˜‰

      • You are very lucky to have the likes of Madhulika (, Anu (, Sharmi ( and Memsaab ( to help you with this wonderful hobby you have taken up šŸ™‚ And as far as the Hindi is concerned, subtitles to your rescue šŸ™‚

  4. Thanks for this wonderful post, Neha. I didn’t know that Guru Dutt had shot for “Pyasa” when he approached Dilip Kumar.

    Gaurav is right, Dilip Kumar didn’t want to work in Pyaasa, because it was very similar to his role in “Devdas” (1955). Though, I don’t know why he chose to work in “Musafir” (1957) where he again played the doomed lover.

    I think he was looking to break from the tragic hero image at that time.

    How would it have been if Madhubala and Nargis appeared together in that movie? It would have been one of the biggest casting coups.

    Hey, just imagining how would it be if we throw in Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor in a movie along with the other two? Maybe Andaz – 2 !! šŸ™‚

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