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When the young lad shocked everyone by standing upright on two moving bikes in his 1991 debut film Phool Aur Kaante, Bollywood got its action hero in Ajay Devgn. The movie went on to become the year’s biggest hit and gave Ajay’s acting career a glorious start. In the same year, in Akshay Kumar, who made his debut with Saugandh, the industry found another action hero.

While Akshay didn’t enjoy the same success as Ajay, with his stellar 1992 hit, Khiladi, the former cemented his foot in the industry the next year. In movies like Suhaag (1994), Khakee (2004) and Insan, filmmakers tried to cash in on their newly found fame by pitting them against each other (2005). In Rohit Shetty’s upcoming action drama, Sooryavanshi, which also stars Ranveer Singh in a prominent role, the two will now join forces.

While Ajay will reprise his role as Bajirao Singham, in the film, Akshay will experiment with the role of an ATS officer. In Bollywood, both Ajay and Akshay had their own separate journeys and carved a niche in the industry for themselves. They are now one of the biggest stars in the industry.

But did you know that Akshay was expected to make his Phool Aur Kaante debut, but was replaced by Ajay just a day before the shooting started? He got a call and he was told, ‘Bhai aap mat aana (Don’t come).’Saath mein hi shuru kiya tha, Hum dono ne apna job. Aisa shuru kiya tha ki ek hi movie ke liye dono lade la. Pehli movie jo humari thi, Phool Aur Kaante, jisme pehle main tha phir isne mujhe dhakka maar ke role le liya (Together, we both began our careers.

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In reality, we fought for the same movie.”I was originally cast in Phool Aur Kaante, but he pushed me out and got the movie), “at the Sooryavanshi trailer launch, which Ajay was also part of, Akshay made the revelation on a hilarious note. Ajay had recalled in another interview how he had been cast in Phool Aur Kaante. His story was entirely different and had no mention of Akshays.

Till 11 am, I would go to college and then work for the whole day as an assistant director. I was really enjoying life, making my own films.Suddenly, one day, I came home and Kuku Kohli (Phool Aur Kaante’s director) was just sitting there with my dad. My dad wanted me to be an actor all the time. ‘I want you to make a movie for me,’ Kuku ji told me. I was like, ‘You’re nuts, I’m just 18 years old, I’m enjoying life.’ He persisted and said, ‘No no, you’re making a movie.’

I declined, he added. This was in October 1990. And they pushed me into it, and I was shooting by November. This is how it happened to Phool Aur Kaante. I did it with the mentality that I’m going to work hard, now if the film succeeds, all right, otherwise I’m not going to wander with a portfolio around.I’m going to go back to the filmmaking I once enjoyed. But it succeeded and I have never had time to reflect since then.

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