Bhagwan Dada biopic ready to roll with a new director

Speculations surrounding the fate of the Bhagwan Dada biopic have been put to rest with the film ready to go on floors from August 5 — with a new director on board. The film, 'Ek Albela', had hit a roadblock following a legal tussle between the makers and Niranjan Patwardhan, who was initially supposed to helm the film. Shekhar Sartandel has now taken on the reins.

Bhagwan Dada and Marathi actor Mangesh Desai
Bhagwan Dada and Marathi actor Mangesh Desai

Marathi actor Mangesh Desai, who will be essaying the cinema legend, says: "Niranjan is no more associated with this project. Shekhar Sartandel is directing the film being made by Kimaya Motion Pictures. He has made a lot of changes to the script with the help of writer Amol Shedge. It will be a Marathi film with some Hindi dialogues."

The project ran into trouble after Mohnish Babre, MD of Kimaya, filed a case against Niranjan for illegally taking possession of the film's screenplay with dialogues and refusing to share a bound script with him. Reports suggested Niranjan chose to find another producer for his film and made a formal announcement about it. However, it was later rumoured to have been shelved.

Desai says although there was not much information available on the actor-filmmaker, no reference was made to Bhagwan Dada’s biography by a journalist during the scripting stage. "His photographs are not available either. Now our film belongs to the era before Albela (1951) released and I have been watching the film everyday and trying to understand his body language and mannerisms as part of my research and preparation. I will have to learn his style of dancing and take training for it. His brother, however, has given us some inputs," adds the actor.

The film will trace the journey of Bhagwan Abaji Palav, who went from being a goon to a successful actor-filmmaker fondly known as Bhagwan Dada. It will also explore the era between 1930 and 1951 and present life in Bombay before and after independence, and the early stages of the Indian film industry.

Jyoti Joshi will play Bhagwan Dada's wife while Swapnil Rajshekhar and Vidyadhar Joshi will be seen in key roles.

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