Pankaj Dheer played Karna in BR Chopra’s epic TV show Mahabharat.
Pankaj Dheer was almost shown the door by BR Chopra during the casting session of Mahabharat.
Bollywood actor Pankaj Dheer has appeared in countless films in supporting and villainous roles, but his claim to fame remains BR Chopra’s epic TV show Mahabharat, where he played Karna. He followed this up with another soulful performance as the evil King Shivdutt in the show Chandrakanta, which brought him further accolades. He then made the transition to the big screen, appearing in many movies like Ikke pe Ikka, Mr Bond, Baadshah, Tarzan: The Wonder Car and many more. You will be surprised to know that Pankaj Dheer was almost shown the door by BR Chopra during the casting session of Mahabharat. Also, he was not first offered to play another character in the show.
Actor Firoz Khan played Arjun in Mahabharat and immortalised the role to the extent that his screen name, after he started appearing in movies, also became Arjun. This role was initially supposed to be played by Pankaj Dheer who, though initially ecstatic, ultimately put on a condition that the makers could not agree upon.
Pankaj Dheer talked about it on Lehren Retro saying that during the audition, there was a panel with dialogue writers Rahi Masoom Raza, Bhring Tupkari Sahab and Pandit Narendra Sharma — all of whom felt that he was perfect to play Arjun. Pankaj Dheer signed the contract but then he received a call from BR Chopra who told him that he needed to shave off his moustache since he also had to portray Brihannala (eunuch version of Arjun).
Pankaj was not ready to shave off his moustache, as he felt he did not look good without it and refused. Reportedly, BR Chopra was angry and even asked Pankaj if he was a real actor. He was then asked to leave the show. Later, BR Chopra contacted him again and gave the role of Karna, Arjun’s arch nemesis-cum-brother in the show, which he nailed with perfection.
Pankaj Dheer has later admitted to having been ‘stupid’ for refusing to shave his moustache and let the role of Arjun slip away from his hands.