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A film inspired by Anna's dharna

Madhur Tankha
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‘Not a typical Bollywood movie':Theatre actor Saurabh Malik whose debut film “ Ab Hoga Dharna Unlimited ” was released this past Friday.- Photo: S. Subramanium
‘Not a typical Bollywood movie':Theatre actor Saurabh Malik whose debut film “ Ab Hoga Dharna Unlimited ” was released this past Friday.- Photo: S. Subramanium

Among the hundreds of people who had gathered at Delhi's Jantar Mantar when Anna Hazare began his hunger strike for a strong Jan Lokpal Bill was Delhi-based theatre actor Saurabh Malik. Now the actor is playing an anti-corruption protester in his debut Hindi film which has derived inspiration from the social activist's nationwide movement.

Describing “ Ab Hoga Dharna Unlimited ” as a political satire, Saurabh says he is playing a gullible young man who participates in a sit-in protest thinking that he can get his wish of getting married to a girl of his choice fulfilled.

Interestingly, Saurabh's character is a complete contrast to his real life personality. “I am playing a fat low-intellect guy who attends college just to play pranks and enjoy a care-free life. But in real life I am an MBBS who has had an excellent academic record studying at Delhi Public School in Vasant Kunj. My parents, who are both doctors, insisted that I must complete my education before pursuing my passion for acting. This would ensure that I have something to fall back on.”

The film, released in only a few metropolitan cities on April 13, begins with pictures of Mahatma Gandhi observing a fast. “It was important to show images of the apostle of non-violence because we wanted to highlight the relevance of observing a fast. As the film moves forward and the movement gathers pace my character also undergoes a transformation.”

Noting that he is a big supporter of Anna Hazare, Saurabh says he was among those who gathered at Jantar Mantar when the former began his fast to pressurise the government to enact a strong anti-corruption law. “I feel the film has been inspired by Annaji's movement that caught the nation's imagination. It is important to root out corruption and have Parliamentarians with a clean track record.”

Ninety per cent of the film has been shot in Delhi and the National Capital Region. “We shot the film at interesting locations including Marwah's Studio in Noida and the Great India Place Mall. The film is different from a typical Bollywood films.”

Trained under the watchful eyes of acclaimed theatre practitioner Barry John, Saurabh says Barry John is an institution who played a valuable role in polishing his acting skills. “He boosted my confidence and encouraged me to perform in plays of different genres.”

Directed by Deepak Tanwar, the film cast includes Milind Gunaji and Omkar Das Manikpuri of “ Peepli Live” fame.

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