Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah who portrayed the role of illustrious Urdu-Persian poet Mirza Ghalib featured in Gulzar’s TV show with the same name condemned the idea of casting Sanjeev Kumar in the film. The actor who always wishes to play Ghalib wrote a letter to Gulzar urging him to rethink on this decision to cast Kumar.
“Main jab film institute mein padh raha tha toh mere ek dost ne bataya ki Gulzar sahab Mirza Ghalib pe film bana rahe hain aur Sanjeev Kumar ko usmein lena chah rahe hain; toh mujhe bada gussa aaya (When I was studying in a film institute and I got to know that Gulzar was thinking of casting Kumar in the role, I got very angry),” the actor mentioned while addressing the audience in an Urdu poetry festival Jash-e-Rekhta.
Naseeruddin Shah added that in no unclear terms he has mentioned that casting Sanjeev Kuamr was a bog mistake especially taking him as a lead. Years later when Gulzar decided to kick start the film, Naseeruddin was chosen as the lead. However later it was found that Gulzar never received the letter.