MUMBAI: Mahesh Manjrekar is not only one of the finest actors in Indian cinema but also a brilliant filmmaker. He was going to be part of the upcoming biopic Swatantrya Veer Savarkar. He announced the film in May 2021 but in September 2022, we heard the news that he has parted ways with the project. The film will be actor Randeep Hooda’s directorial debut. Mahesh gave an insight on why he chose to walk away from the film.
Mahesh told a news portal how he was hurt that Randeep gradually tried to sideline him from the project. He said, “I met Randeep and I saw that he’s quite sincere and was involved with the subject. We had a couple of meetings. He read several books related to the freedom struggle, World Wars etc. I found it quite interesting. The first draft was read out to him. He had a few issues and that was okay. Then, even during the second draft, he had (some objections). I told him, ‘If this is what’s going to happen, there will be a problem in the film’. He assured me that once the script is locked, he won’t question anything.”
Mahesh further added, “Randeep continued to have problems. This is when he and I headed to Aamby Valley (near Lonavala, Maharashtra). We sat there and discussed (extensively). I was very happy that the script was finally locked. However, again, a few issues cropped up. He wanted to incorporate Hitler, the King of England, the Prime Minister of England, etc. He wanted to incorporate Lokmanya Tilak’s ‘Swaraj is my birthright and I’ll get it’ episode. I wondered how all this matters to Savarkar’s biopic. But he remained adamant. Because he had read too many things; his reading now became a liability.”
On Randeep’s claims of making him lose too much weight risking his life Mahesh said, “I have been to death and back for this film’: "Who told you to lose so much weight? Tomorrow, if he has to play a dead man, will he be dead? What rubbish is this? It’s okay if you lose weight. That’s your preparation. But don’t claim that he could have died. Nobody forced you to do it.”
He further added, “He wanted to incorporate a scene of Bhagat Singh with Savarkar. I was appalled. Where did this happen? He also wanted to incorporate prisoners from the 1857 mutiny in Andaman Jail. I asked, ‘How can we show that?’. He insisted that we could and that they must have been 90 years old (when Savarkar was imprisoned in the same jail)” Mahesh added, “I gave 100 out of 100 to Randeep’s sincerity. But his obsession killed the film for me. For all you know, he might have made a brilliant film.’
Karan Halai of M/s Halai and Co Advocates and Legal Consultants issued a statement on behalf of Randeep that read, he has produced, directed, as well as completed the film ‘despite all odds by facing various challenges coming his way including financial, mental, and physical’.
Swatantrya Veer Savarkar’s release date is not yet confirmed but it will hit the cinemas this year.
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