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Film on Lal Bahadur Shatri

Monday, June 05, 2006

Varanasi (UNI): Congress leader Anil Shastri will play his illustrious father and former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, in a documentary-cum-drama depicting the latter's life to be aired on Doordarshan in July and August. ''Lal Bahadur Shastri'', the 100-minute docu-drama directed by Mohit Kumar Jha, is being shot in locales across Varanasi district. Talking to UNI, Mr Jha, credited with directing the first 350 episodes of Ekta Kapoor's magnum opus Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, said that film is being produced by Moving Picture Company for Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Trust, New Delhi.

Anil Shastri, one of the two sons of Shastriji, will be among the six people playing the role of the former PM. While three boys from Varanasi are playing the role of young Shastriji, two Mumbaikar's, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, will also be playing the life of the great leader. ''Mr Anil Shastri, a former Lok Sabha MP from Varanasi, will play Shastriji life spanning from when he became Union Railway Minister to his death in Soviet Union,'' Mr Jha added. ''We roped in Anil as he is only son of Shastriji who has close resemblance to his father,'' Mr Jha said.

''Be it the film on Mahatma Gandhi or that on Jawahar Lal Nehru, the title roles have been played by foreign actors. It was best that the real son of the son of soil plays the title role in our docu-drama,'' Mr Jha maintained. The documentary is an effort to present the birth to death tale of Lal Bahadur Shastri, one of the unsung heroes of Indian polity, who was known for probity and love for the agrarians, best accentuated in his famous call '' Jai Jawan Jai Kisan''. Mr Jha, presently directing 'Jasoos Vijay' series for Doordarshan said that the project attempts narrating the tale of the diminutive statesman, who travelled through the bylanes of penury to the seat of power in the country.

Being shot in places like Ramnagar -- housing the paternal house of Shastriji-- Pindra, Sarnath, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Mahatama Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith (MGKV) and Varanasi railway station, the film has mostly actors from the National School of Drama, said Mr Jha, an ex NSDian. Mr Jha said master lyricist Gulzar has scripted four songs of the film, while the remaining two were written by none other, but Shastriji's wife Lalita Shastri. The contributions of Shastriji's late wife to the film were not only confined to two 'Geets' but her book titled 'Mere Aradhya' which has largely been used by scriptwriter and literateur Kamaleshwar to draw the story line of the film. The film's story line also finds reflection of letters and diaries written by the late Prime Minister during his 14 months stint in the PM's chair.

Mr Jha said the project, besides Mr Gulzar, has also roped in Raincoat and Choker Bali fame national awardee musician Debu Mukherjee, to give the music to the film, besides Shubha Mudgal and Ustad Vilayat Ali Khan, lending their voice to the six numbers. The documentary will be aired on Doordarshan in five episodes during July and August next, following which it was likely to be screened in cinema halls in Varanasi. The CD of the film and its songs will be showcased for public in the Lal Bahadur Memorial Trust at New Delhi, Mr Jha said. The promising director, after completing this ambitious project, aspires directing a full-length film on another Banarasi luminary Munshi Premchand. ''Be it a Rs one lakh or Rs one crore film, I will make it'' Mr. Jha maintained.

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