Last year, when Baba Ramdev started his crusade against corruption with a dharna at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, no one knew that it would catch the nation’s imagination on such a massive scale. The dharna was probably what inspired Anna Hazare to organise a similar revolt against corruption.
And though the hype around both these dharnas has almost died down, the makers of a soon-to-be released film have decided to revive memories of Ramdev and Hazare, though on celluloid and in the form of a spoof. The film, titled Ab Hoga Dharna Unlimited, hits theatres on April 13.
Says writer and creative director, Navin Batra, “While driving past Delhi’s Connaught Place last year, I was stuck in a huge traffic jam. When I asked why, I was told about the dharna by Baba Ramdev. I was shocked to see so many people. I started asking myself, “what if there was foul play involved in the agitation?”
That’s when I decided to make this film.” But Navin ended up doing a comedy, which is the exact opposite of what Ramdev and Anna aimed at. “I don’t want to bore people by making a serious documentary. Everybody has seen these agitations on TV, so I don’t think anyone would be interested in watching the same thing in theatres as well.”
Comedian Sunil Pal plays the lead protagonist in the film. Ehsaan Noorani, Milind Gunaji and Omkar Das Manikpuri, popularly known as Natha from Peepli Live (2010) play supporting roles in the spoof where the opposition hires a baba to hold a dharna against the government. Everything is sponsored at the dharna, including the food, which is served in front of the promotional banners.
Though the public turns up in big numbers, Pal runs away and the dharna is abandoned. Omkar, who initially plays a common man in the film, later takes on the role of Anna. Adds Navin, “The characters in the film are based on real-life personalities, but none of them resemble the actual person, which we have done to avoid censorship problems.”