Bhumi, Taapsee, top choices for the role of Usha Mehta in upcoming biopic
Mohar Basu for Mid Day
Telling the story of a freedom fighter is a significant undertaking. The responsibility only grows manifold when the subject has been an intimate part of your life. On that count, Ketan Mehta's next, a biopic on freedom fighter-aunt Usha Mehta is perhaps his most important work. Sources say that the period drama will be mounted on a lavish budget. Even as he is shaping the final draft of the script, the National Award-winning filmmaker has simultaneously begun the pre-production. With the late Mehta having spent the better part of her life in then-Bombay, the director is recreating the city of the 1930s and '40s.
The historians who assisted Ketan in the script development are also overseeing the process of world-building. A source reveals, 'Mehta's team has reached out to well-known art directors. Alongside, they are conducting a recce of south Mumbai, mainly Colaba and Fort, where a large part of the action will be set. The director hopes to kick off the shoot by the first quarter of 2022, with the indoor sequences. Post that, the unit will shift to Madh Island or Virar, where grand sets replicating the architectural style of the '30s and '40s will be built. Ketan is studying every element that is being sourced mdash from the fabrics to the vehicles mdash to ensure it is historically accurate. A fair amount of VFX will be employed as well.'
While a leading studio has come on board, the director is keen to sign on Taapsee Pannu or Bhumi Pednekar for the titular role. Ketan is unfazed that Karan Johar too is reportedly backing a story on the same subject, instead viewing his movie as a personal story of the gritty Gandhian who had helped establish the Congress Radio during the Quit India movement. The source from the unit adds, 'The film will shed light on her contribution in setting up the underground radio station in 1942 as well as her serving a prison sentence in Yerawada Jail. Ketan sir has a lot of first-hand anecdotes from his aunt and her personal diaries, which are forming the crux of his story.'
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