Of late we have heard about a slew of biopics being made in Bollywood. But the news that Smita Thackeray's son Rahul Thackeray is set to direct a biopic SAHEB on (grandfather) Bala Saheb Thackeray certainly caught our attention. We got in touch in an exclusive chat with the creative director and one of the producers on the film, Sandeep Singh, wherein he revealed why he backed Balasaheb biopic, what aspects would be covered, if SAHEB would be commercially packaged and much more. Sandeep was earlier a CEO at Sanjay Leela Bhansali Productions and churned out some good films like GOLIYON KI RAASLEELA RAM LEELA, GABBAR, ROWDY RATHORE, BAJIRAO MASTANI.
Ask Sandeep how a biopic on Balasaheb happened and he says, “I know Smita Thackeray from a very long time. She is a very good friend. Now we have partnered to make this film. Smitaji is quite passionate about films, music and making cinema. She has many stories to tell. But she wanted to begin with SAHEB.”
Balasaheb's life has been like an open book and even media has highlighted it enough. Probe Sandeep what new aspects would be covered, which chapters of Bal Thackeray's life will be essentially touched upon in the biopic and he says, “The biggest USP of this film is that the grandson Rahul Thackeray is directing and co-writing it. So, it will have those moments which people haven't seen yet - His love towards family and nation, his speeches, his up-bringing, the way he used to talk, walk, the way he used to play mind games, write, paint, everything will be shown in a different style. Why do we want to believe what new channels have showcased? Smita Thackeray and Rahul Thackeray, who are making the film, are the people who know much more about Balasaheb than anybody else,” and adds, “The chapters from birth to death will be shown and touched upon. The scenes, dialogues will not be similar to any other film or biopic. It will be completely a fresh film told from the perspective of Rahul Thackeray.”
But does he think that the biopic may get biased since it is being helmed by his grandson? “It can't be biased because Balasaheb himself was not biased towards his work or party. He never hid anything from anyone. He was known to speak his mind,” assures Sandeep.
Will the real family members also feature in the film? “Everyone (from the school teacher to the servant to the driver) who was associated with him and if the script requires they should be and will be part of the film. Otherwise, it will be injustice to the biopic,” clears Sandeep.
THE DIRTY PICTURE, BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG, MARY KOM, PAAN SINGH TOMAR, etc, were all commercially packaged biopics. Ask how SAHEB would be different from other biopics, if it will be commercial in nature or more like a docu-drama and Sandeep replies, “I don't know why there is a difference between commercial or art films. We are not here to make documentary or art or commercial film but just ‘cinema'. There is so much content on Balasaheb. People always read what he wrote and what was written regarding him in the media. We have to make sure that people watch the biopic with keen interest. We have to tell a genuine story and do justice to the writing.”
Since in one of the interviews Sandeep disclosed that being a Bihari he is proud to produce the film, we asked him if it will go down well with Marathis and Biharis. And he was also quick to respond. “I am also producing a film called ALIGARH, which is again on a Marathi professor from Pune. Further, I am making SAHEB because Balasaheb was worshipped in Maharashtra. I am not bothered about people whether it will go down well with them or not. What I am bothered about is, I am making a film on the ‘God of Maharashtra' and paying tribute to every Maharashtrian with this. And I am proud to be part of it. I am a Bihari and come from small town and don't want to hide those things. I don't want to shy away or be fake. People should know that I am a Bihari, who is making this film.”
Ramu's (RGV) films SARKAR and SARKAR RAJ were partially inspired by the life of Bal Thackeray and Amitabh Bachchan played the title role. Quiz Sandeep how SAHEB is placed and if they are considering Mr. Bachchan's name for the biopic and he says, “SARKAR was not a biopic but the character in it was inspired by Balasaheb. That's all SARKAR was, otherwise it had nothing do with Matushree or the family. It was not a biopic on Balasaheb and Ramu also never claimed it. We don't have anybody in mind but once we have it, we will make the necessary announcements. Right now we just have the dialogues with us. We don't want to cross the second stage unless we finish the first.”
Forming an association with Omung Kumar (MARY KOM fame), Akshay Balsaraf, Smita Thackeray and Rashid Saeed, Sandeep Singh is currently working on three biopics in a row SARABJIT, ALIGARH and SAHEB.
While SARABJIT and ALIGARH are underway, SAHEB will go on floors by mid-next year and it will release on his birthday week in January 2017.
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