My family is afraid I’ll do the role so well that I’ll turn into the Great Dictator himself," laughs Anupam Kher who is gearing up to play Adolf Hitler in Dear Friend Hitler. "There’s no reason to worry though, the last time I took a role home was during Saaransh and that was because so much depended on the movie’s success."
Dear Friend Hitler should take off by the end of July. The title comes from the two letters Mahatma Gandhi wrote that began with Dear Friend Hitler. Last Sunday, Kher had a sitting with the film’s debutant director, Rakesh Ranjan, to decide on the ‘look’ before he flew out to UK to join the cast of Mausam.
“I need to grow a full moustache for Pankaj’s (Kapur) film. Once I return, I’ll clip it short to resemble Hitler’s distinctive moustache. I’m also getting a wig specially designed for the role, along with Hitler’s uniform, boots and all the stars. I’ll also need to shed a few kilos, work on the gait and accent. It will be easy for me to acquire these Hitlerian traits because I’m a trained actor,” asserts Kher.
Just for reference
He, however, points out that more than the physical aspects, it’s the psychological challenge of portraying The Fuehrer as a man trapped in a bunker in his last days, that has him all excited. “It’s not a role you’re offered everyday, particularly one that portrays Hitler in his last days, showcasing his fears, pressures and insecurities, without any of the paraphernalia we associate with him.”
Kher has plenty of reference movies, including the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List, 10 Days of Hitler, Bruno Ganz’s Der Untergang/ Downfall and even Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator. In fact, in David Dhawan’s Shola Aur Shabnam, he had played a Hitler like character that was a tribute to Chaplin.
The director has admitted that his film, though an original work, will have some similarities with the Downfall/ Der Untergang that came in for some sharp criticism for being sympathetic to the man responsible for the Holocaust. Dear Friend Hitler has already generated some bad press from newspapers like Dawn and The Guardian.
Kher insists that they will not be romanticising Hitler. “He was a demon and will remain one. It wasn’t one mad streak but a massacre of millions that went on for years. People shouldn’t draw conclusions without reading the script. We Indians are capable of making a realistic film and as head of an acting academy, I’d like my students to be impressed,” he argues.
Neha Dhupia is playing Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun. Quiz him about intimate moments with the sexy actress and he points out that the German general didn’t come across as a man capable of love.
“Sure, Eva stuck with him right till the bitter end, but I don’t think she had much of a choice. They may have loved each other but in such difficult times, I don’t think anyone would think of romance or singing duets.” Touché!
A book on Hitler too!
Chetan Waman Dalvi, a 23-year-old chemical engineer, has written a book on Hitler. too Titled Mein Kampf — An Evil or a Needed Hero, it will be released by Smriti Publishers in the first week of July.
The author admits that he’s always been curious about historical characters and fascinated by Hitler. “The novel is a factitious account written from his perspective and talks about the change he was trying to bring and the reason behind them.
He’s prepared for criticism despite a two-year research. “Five hundred copies have been booked in advance. I’m sure that the book will generate more interest once it enters the stores,” Dalvi says confidently.
“It’ll help people decide for themselves if he was all evil or some good came out of his terror reign.”