The makers of Gangs of Wasseypur and Tanu Weds Manu, Sunil Bohra and Shailesh R. Singh, collaborate with India’s largest English-language trade publisher, Penguin Random House India, for a mega web series—The Man Who Saved India—based on internationally acclaimed author Hindol Sengupta’s book.
Sunil Bohra (Bohra Bros) and Shailesh R. Singh (Karam Media), who produced Tanu Weds Manu and are currently making Mental Hai Kya and Jabariya Jodi, are now gearing up to make the biopic of the Iron Man, Sardar Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister of India, based on the book The Man Who Saved India published by Penguin.
‘I am most pleased that the filming rights to The Man Who Saved India have been bought by Sunil Bohra. Sunil has the vision, the tenacity and the instinctive understanding of how to bring Sardar Patel’s story to life. The phrase larger than life is a cliché, but like all clichés, there are moments when it is true. And this is one of them. This is one such story which is truly larger than life, and I believe that Sunil is the right person to give this story the visual mounting and the distribution muscle that it requires so that it can enthral a new generation around the world, just as the story of Gandhi once did. Sardar Patel worked and spoke extensively with youth all his life. He was one of the first in the Congress Party at that time who saw what a futile and borrowed idea the Right versus Left debate among the youth in India was and propelled the youth on the far more urgent task of building the nation after colonial rule,’ says the author, Hindol Sengupta.
Milee Ashwarya, publisher, Ebury Publishing and Vintage Publishing, says, ‘I am delighted that The Man Who Saved India by Hindol Sengupta is being made into a film, and the character, personality and contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel will be available to a wider audience through the medium of cinema. Many congratulations to Hindol and Sunil Bohra for taking on this brilliant initiative.’
The web series will trace the journey of Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel towards becoming one of the tallest leaders of the Indian polity—an ordinary young lad from Gujarat with skeletal education going on to ace one of the toughest law exams in the United Kingdom, returning to India and practising at Godhra. He quit his job on the call of Mahatma Gandhi and joined the Indian freedom struggle, earning the title of ‘Sardar’ from the father of the nation himself.
‘I was always mesmerized by the persona of Sardar Patel and his contribution of merging the princely states into the union of India. I hail from Jodhpur and can hence relate to it better than anyone else,’ says producer, Sunil Bohra. Sunil also says that Hindol Sengupta’s book encompasses all the facets of Sardar Patel’s persona, hence we have decided to stay as close to the book as possible.
The book brings to light certain facts that are bound to raise pointed questions and incite heated discussions about political and historical developments that have been kept under cover by vested interests. Just for the start –
In 1946, thirteen of the sixteen states elected Sardar Patel as the President. This means he was more popular than Nehru and would have been the natural choice for PM in 1947, but on Mahatma Gandhi’s request, Sardar Patel made way for Nehru. It was Sardar Patel who should be credited for merging 500 princely states into modern India. It is due to him that India’s map looks like what it is today.
Sardar Patel also did not get along well with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the two had a long history of quarrels on many issues. Sardar Patel and Nehru were at loggerheads almost all the time; Sardar was close to Maharaja Hari Singh, while Nehru was great friends with Sheikh Abdullah, and that sums it all up for us. ‘Lamhon ne khata ki, umron ne saza payee’ seems to have been written for the Kashmir dispute being discussed at the United Nations. Sardar Patel was not at all in favour of taking the Kashmir dispute to the UN; it was Nehru who insisted, and the rest, as they say, is history. The bubonic plague that affected about 12 million people in India and China in the 1930s could not force Sardar out of his homeland, Gujarat.
Sardar lost his wife, Jhaverba, to cancer when he was just thirty-three years old. But he did not remarry, nor have we heard of any scandalous stories or romantic rendezvous concerning him. This goes on to show that Sardar was not only loving but a loyal husband too. The Iron Man, as he was often called, survived a massive heart attack in 1948. But death got the better of him two years later when he passed away at the age of seventy-five due to natural causes. It is said that he spent his last days on the bed cracking jokes. For his contribution to the nation he was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1991, but a statue that befits him and his stature was erected twenty-seven years later.