Movies

Will it be a hat-trick?

Vishal Raj’s third venture, Savitribai Phule, a biopic on the reformer and educationist is releasing on August 10. The director says the film is based on a book by Sarjoo Katkar and features Suchendra Prasad as Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Savitribai’s husband.

“It is a coincidence that all my films are based on Sarjoo Katkar’s stories and Suchendra Prasad has played the lead in all of them,” says Vishal. “Savitribai is our nation’s first educationist. One cannot imagine the kind of persecution she went through during her time. I feel we have forgotten our nation’s heroes, who have paved way for our progress. Making films on them is like reminding ourselves of our heroes and this is my way of paying tribute to them for their great works.”

Will it be a hat-trick?

He has made biographies and educative films as he feels people, “don’t know our historical characters. I feel sad when teachers ask who Savitribai is,” says Vishal, who then shares the challenges he faced during the making of this film. “The first was to find a producer. Once that was sorted, we had to create politically and historically correct sets, costumes and furniture — all in the 19th Century. The credit goes to the art director, Nagaraj, who worked hard to recreate history,” shares Vishal, whose first film, Ingale maarga, was about a man named Devaraya, a Dalit teacher inspired by the teachings of Dr BR Ambedkar. The film, based on Katkar’s book, Devaraya Ingale, won the Karnataka State Award and the song ‘Kattutheva Navu Kattutheva’ became an anthem.

Vishal’s second directorial venture, July 22 1947, was about the national flag — the story behind it and its importance. It is also based on Katkar’s story. “The Prime Minister watched clippings of this film in Delhi and asked producers to dub or remake this film in all languages,” beams Vishal. July 22 1947 also won the Karnataka State film Award for best story.

Will it be a hat-trick?

Vishal started his career with a DFA (Diploma in Film Acting) and worked as a dance master in films. “I am trained in classical and semi-classical dances. I later became a fight master before becoming an associate director,” says Vishal, who has choreographed dances for many films including Nagabharana’s Chinnari Mutta.

He has also taught acting at Adarash Film Institute for 20 years and worked as an assistant to the evergreen hero Dev Anand. “Cameraman Mallikarjun, also a friend of mine was going to Mumbai to work on a film and was looking for someone who knew Hindi. I was taken on board and realised I was working for Navketan Films. I started by choreographing a dance for Suniel Anand. Dev saab loved my work and asked me to stay on and work with him for quite a few of his projects. That was a learning experience. There can be none like him. He was 70 plus and always on his toes. That chapter of my life will always be special,” recalls Vishal, who adds that now he looks forward to making four more films. “All my films will be biopics or about forgotten heroes.”


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 3:11:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/will-it-be-a-hat-trick/article24632532.ece

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