While a lot is being talked about the film ‘Dharmaveer: Mukkam Post Thane’ after Eknath Shinde’s rebellion and the cryptic messages the movie had, there are still a lot of clues that the film gave which probably hinted at Shinde’s plans and what was in store for Maharashtra politics.
India Today spoke to some key figures associated with the movie to decipher some of these messages. The response was a surprise.
MOVIE RELEASE TIMINGS PERFECTLY PLANNED?
The film released barely a month ahead of the political drama in Maharashtra. Though ‘Dharmaveer’ was supposed to be the biopic of Shiv Sena’s late leader Anand Dighe, much of its part focused on portraying a larger-than-life image of Eknath Shinde.
An actor who was offered a key role in the movie spoke to India Today on the condition of anonymity. He said he had to decline the opportunity as he had date issues and the producers insisted on releasing the movie at the latest by May. The film went on floor in March and was completed in record time.
“I was surprised that the producers were aiming at a May date, which neither coincides with the birth nor death anniversary of Dighe, or even Shiv Sena foundation day for that matter,” he said.
The name of Eknath Shinde, who was largely seen as a leader restricted to Thane and adjoining areas, reached across Maharashtra with this movie directed by ace Marathi director Praveen Tarde.
BALASAHEB’S FIREBRAND HINDUTVA
‘Dharmaveer: Mukkam Post Thane’ is a biopic of Shiv Sena strongman Anand Dighe who was also known for his Robinhood-esque yet larger than life image. However, the movie focused a lot on the Hindutva credentials of Dighe. The communal riots of Rabodi and Bhiwandi in the nineties figured prominently in the movie, underlining the Shiv Sena’s (read Balasheb’s) staunch pro-Hindutva stand.
Eknath Shinde, after his rebellion, has been constantly speaking about about how the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray has deviated from Balasaheb’s brand of Hindutva.
NATHURAM GODSE PLAY
Marathi play “Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy” (This is Nathuram Godse speaking), based on the life of Nathuram Godse had run into a huge controversy in the early nineties before it was banned. The Marathi play had run into controversy for glorifying Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Godse. The Shiv Sena had then openly supported the staging of the play and Anand Dighe was one of the frontman in organising the play in Thane.
An entire sequence about the controversy and Shiv Sena’s role was shot at length. In fact, Sharad Ponkshe, who played Nathuram in the play, was cast in the detailed sequence for Dharmaveer. However, the scene was later dropped from the final cut.
When contacted, Ponkshe told India Today, “Yes, the sequence about the play was shot at length. But at the time of the release, I was informed by director Praveen Tarde that the movie had got a bit lengthy and the scene had to be dropped. However, I am told that the same sequence will be added to the sequel that is slated to be shot soon.”
Sources say that the scene was dropped at the insistence of a senior Shiv Sena leader who thought that the scene would not go down well with the then MVA allies.
Ever Since Shinde took over as the CM, Savarkar has found a lot of mention in his speeches. He even visited the Savarkar Memorial in Shivaji Park after taking over as the CM.
FILM SHOWED DIGHE OPENLY DEFIED BALASAHEB
Though Anand Dighe, who was Shinde’s political mentor and guru, was shown as a staunch Shiv Sainik, the film also showed that Dighe was a dissenter who at times would openly defy Balasaheb. In one of the scenes, the film shows Dighe making the Shiv Sena supremo accept MD Joshi, popularly known as Mo. Da. Joshi, as the candidate for the assembly polls. Uddhav perhaps was not able to read this message of the rebel streak of defying the party boss from the film.
SANJAY RAUT: THE MAN ON TARGET?
One of the most controversial episodes of Dighe’s life was the allegations he faced after the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Shridhar Khopkar. Dighe’s comments of ‘traitors will not be forgiven” had landed him into suspicion after Khopkar cross-voted for a Congress candidate, resulting in Shiv Sena’s defeat in the mayoral election of Thane Municipal Corporation.
It is said that it was Sanjay Raut, who was then with a Marathi weekly, had widely publicised the statement. A character strongly resembling him in dress and mannerisms is shown as a “reporter” in the movie. Not just that, this reporter is also shown raising doubts on Anand Dighe’s death in the very last frame of the film. Shinde faction have been constantly targeting Raut, labeling him as someone who is responsible for the present resentment among Sena MLAs.
LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST, RAJ THACKERAY AS HINDUTVA SAVIOR
Towards the climax, when Dighe is shown on death bed, Raj Thackeray is shown visiting him. Dighe tells Raj Thackeray that he is the future of Hindutva. While the character of Udhav Thackeray has no dialogues in the movie’s climax. It is noteworthy that Uddhav Thackeray had walked out of the movie’s special screening after this scene. “I couldn’t gather courage to see the death scene of Dighe,” Uddhav had said after coming out of the screening.
Interestingly, Shinde after his rebellion and even after taking oath as he CM had specially called Raj Thackeray. There are speculation that in an extreme scenario, where the Shinde group is required to merge the party, Raj Thackeray’s MNS is also an option.
Finally, though Shinde is not the official producer of the film, he was actively seen promoting the movie. The cryptic message the film showed has now become a topic of discussion not just in political circles but also in the public at large. Sources have also told India Today that the producers of the movie have already planned a sequel.
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