Director Mahadevan, who has roped in Pratik and Patralekhaa for Phule, on retelling Jyotirao Phule’s fight for women’s education
Pratik Gandhi and Patralekhaa in the film’s first look
On Jyotirao Phule’s 195th birth anniversary yesterday, director Ananth Mahadevan announced Phule, a biopic on the 19th century social activist. The poster sees Pratik Gandhi of Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story fame as the reformer who, along with wife Savitribai Phule, had championed women’s education. “Jyotirao and his wife formed the Satyashodhak Samaj to look after women who were sexually abused or abandoned. He was the first person in India to be given the title of Mahatma [by social activist Vithalrao Krishnaji Vandekar]. He educated his wife when he learnt about her interest in reading. He understood that if she educated herself and became a teacher, it would serve his mission of having women teachers for young girls,” says Mahadevan.
Theatre actor Nadira Babbar was keen to do a one-woman play, written by Mahadevan, on Savitribai Phule. While the project didn’t materialise, Mahadevan was approached by Ritesh Kudecha to convert it into a web series. “It’s an epic along the lines of Gandhi  and Lincoln . So, I thought it best to make it as a movie. As an actor, Pratik radiates intensity. Patralekhaa has an earthy quality to her,” he adds. The director plans to take the film on floors by the year-end, shooting it in Pune, Nagpur and Nashik.