It’s the season of biopics in the Hindi film industry. After celluloid versions of India's Rome Olympics hero Milkha Singh's back-from-the-brink success story and boxer Mary Kom's fighting spirit in the face of adversities, director Ketan Mehta's real-life story of Bihar's mountain man, Dasrath Manjhi, releases on Friday. Given the sensitivity with which he had earlier treated two personality-based films he directed -- Mangal Pandey: The Rising and Rang Rasiya -- the buzz around Manjhi, and the expectations from it, is unprecedented.
“My last two films have been biopics, but why Dasrath Manjhi? Because it’s an amazing story to tell. Just imagine about a guy who broke a mountain with a chisel and hammer. He is a symbol of the never say die spirit of India,” Mehta said.
Both Mangal Pandey and Rang Rasiya were politically charged films, but Mehta insists on his apolitical credentials. “I seriously believe that as an artist my work should be seen in an apolitical way. I am not aligned to any ideology or political organisation.”To keep the film realistic, Mehta insisted on shooting in Gaya, Bihar, Manjhi's hometown. "When we were shooting on the top of the mountain, we could see the horizon. I had never seen that kind of darkness in my life. Even after so many years of independence, that place is as backward as it would have been in the beginning."
When asked if she felt the pressure of being Mehta's choice for the film's female lead, actor Radhika Apte said: “I spent time with the villagers, but I don’t know whether my dialect will sound authentic or not. You let me know how it was after watching the film. I had to apply a lot of make-up for my role. It was way different than any other roles I have played so far."
Nawazuddin Siddiqui also echoes the same sentiments while describing his character in the film. “It takes a certain type of madness to carry on the same task for more than 22 years. To get into the skin of such a character was definitely difficult. I have played three different stages of the same character's life in the film. I had some YouTube videos for reference, and we also visited Dashrath Manjhi's village where we met with his son and daughter-in-law and other people.”
Manjhi – The Mountain Man will hit the screens on August 21, 2015.
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Read: I share Dashrath Manjhi's madness, says Nawazuddin Siddiqui