In Sanjay Gupta’s biopic, Shootout At Wadala (SAW) that’s inspired by the story of Manya Surve, the gangster shot dead in the first ever police encounter, Sonu Sood plays underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. And in Kabeer Kaushik’s Maximum, he is a tough cop who has been apparently modelled on encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma.
“Yes, Pradeep Sharma was the biggest inspiration for Sonu’s character, a no-nonsense encounter specialist, even though both the actor and Kabeer took a close look at other real life cops too, during the three to four years of research,” says a unit insider.
Sonu, who’s just finished the film, didn’t want to comment on the subject. All he says is, “Yes, my role is inspired by real life cops. And to hit the right note, I did some research on my own besides following a couple of references.”
Maximum captures the state of affairs in the Mumbai underworld between 2003-2008 with two cops, played by Sonu and Naseeruddin Shah, struggling for maximum power. “Several encounters happened during the period. Our film shows the sudden rise of the encounter specialist and how the system changed,” says Sonu.
The Dabangg actor admits that he feels an “added responsibility” because the role is close to real life. “That’s why I read up on all the encounter specialists of that time. We can’t go wrong since people know and have heard about them. After Saher, Kabeer knew the subject well and that made it easy for me,” says Sonu, who has also been reading up on the Dubai don, Dawood Ibrahim for Shootout At Wadala.
Sharma grabbed headlines during his tenure with the Mumbai Encounter Squad. During the time, he was involved in over 100 encounters. In 2008, he was dismissed from the Mumbai police on charges of corruption but was reinstated ion 2009 after he was proven innocent of the charges.
Sanjay Dutt’s character Mahadev Bhosale in Department is also apparently modelled on Pradeep Sharma and revolves around an Anti-Terrorist Squad. The role is said to have shades of Sharma and Daya Nayak.
Dutt has admitted to having met both Pradeep and Daya. “We’ve sat together and talked,” says the actor who played a cop in Mission Kashmir (2000) and in Shootout At Lokhandwala (2007) too.