Yesterday was Aamir’s day. Ketan Mehta‘s much expected The Rising had the rising. The muhurat of The Rising was staged yesterday with the chief guest as Prince Charles to clap the first shot.
The Rising is all about the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. Also called as the Sepoy Mutiny, the first war of indian independence started because of a rumor that new rifle cartridges that british introduced had lubricant oil made from the fat of animals. The fat of sacred cows was against religious beliefs of Hindus and for muslims it was the pig fat. The sepoys started rising against the british colonization, which became the root of Indian Independence. The rebellion also saw the end of the East India Company’s rule in India. Power was transferred to the British Crown in 1858 by an Act of British Parliament. The states of India, which was divided until then, recognized the importance of unity and started fighting against the british. Magal Pandey a young warrior shot his british commander in Meerut when the commander forced the troops to use the rifles lubricated with fats of animanls. Heroes were born and died during this insurrection. I still remember all this history from my high school history textbooks. Especially Indian Independence struggle was my second favorite history topic after the renaissance.
So Aamir Khan, the man who was instrumental to take Indian cinema very close to Oscars, stars as Mangal Pandey, the protagonist in The Rising. With A R Rahman hooking on to the keyboard for this movie, I am sure it is a sure shot success.
Here is the other angle, the tragedy, the untold story, and the forgotten man – Kamalhassan, who was well ahead in this arena of historical films. Marudhanayagam was the most well planned, scrutinized and thoughtfully executed movie, which is in the storeroom of Kamal’s mandaveli house. If The Rising had Prince Charles, Marudhanayagam had the Queen herself clap for the first shot. If Aamir has grown hairs all over his head, this man Kamal, had even grown a much-appreciated beard for this Marudhanayagam. Well that was just a glimpse of silly similarities.
As a fact, which many of us don’t know, Kamal was in France for 30 days with a playwright for a discussion over the screenplay of Marudhanayagam. After that Kamalhassan remarked in an interview, some of his best discussion about films where with this playwright in France. Sarika, Kamal’s former wife, made a costly trip to world museums to get details about the sample costumes of the British during the 18th century. And above all there was huge fort constructed in Sri Perumbuthur where the main part of the shooting went on for more than 90 days. What remains after 4 years and 6 months of the initial muhurat is just half an hour of the movie. After editing the whole shoot Kamalhassan remarked in an interview that he has just shot 30 min of the movie.
Marudhanayagam itself is Kamal’s magnum opus and it is for huge sum of money required for his dream project Marudhanayagam, he started acting in a string of comedies like Thennali and PKS. But as he concludes he needs close to 100 crores for the entire movie to be shot. So until someone is able to give him a fair share of investment, that half-an-hour of Marudhanayagam would remain in the dumps of his house.
The Rising is also a similar movie. However, It is not the same. Rising is about the fight for Indian Independence during 19th century. But Marudhanayagam is a story about a small time king from Madurai who was the root of Indian uprising against the British. He existed in 17th-18th century and is even placed much before Veerapandya Kattabomman in pages of history. It is said that analyzing Marudhanayagam’s life will lead to a path of the war which India chose to fight the British.
Since The Rising is on the sets already and poised to release next year it would definitely make Marudhanayagam look similar in approach. I am not being biased about Kamal’s Marudhanayagam. It’s just that someone’s dreams are shattered for he wanted to have first leap into such a modern movie making style of an historical movie. I am sure Rising will be India’s first leap into the rows of grand international movies like Titanic, Schindler’s List and Braveheart.
All these Sony and Columbia movies that are sponsoring for some mushy mushy Hindi flicks, can come forward for this venture of Marudhanayagam. If only someone could make Kamal’s dream come true, he can prove to be the best among the rest.