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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

Choosing change over campaign

When Main Atal Hoon’s producers called director Ravi Jadhav to offer the project to him, he was in the midst of developing another film. On hearing the subject, he was immediately willing to leave the project to helm the biopic on late Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “It was that instant reaction for me. I’ve always wondered how a poet went on to become the country’s prime minister. The core of any artiste is emotions, and politics is the exact opposite of it,” smiles the National Award-winning director.

In Pankaj Tripathi, Jadhav found an actor who is as rooted and amiable as the late prime minister.  But the film’s treatment was a challenge. The director viewed it as the “story of a common man”. “I never set out to make a political film. I wanted to inspire youngsters with this story of a village boy who became a firebrand journalist and then a politician. So many speeches given by him say so little about his party, and focus instead on nation-building. This could have been a right-wing film, but that’s not what we set out to make. I started by shortlisting the highlights of his life that will inspire people. It organically became a story about a man who wanted to bring about change.”

From transgender activist Gauri Sawant’s biopic Taali (2023) to Main Atal Hoon, Jadhav—among the most successful Marathi filmmakers of his time—has chosen unusual subjects for his Hindi offerings. Is commercial success not a barometer when choosing his Hindi projects? “What is a commercial film? Any movie that brings people to theatres. I’m certain people will come to watch it. But more than anything, I made this film for my two kids, both born in the 2000s, and to get that generation interested in making change happen and take the country forward.”

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