EXCLUSIVE: Mahesh Manjrekar on recreating the 1962 Indo-Chinese war & what made him direct Salman Khan’s Antim

Mahesh Manjrekar gets into a candid conversation with Pinkvilla opens up about his digital debut, 1962: The War In The Hills and his Bollywood directorial, Antim: The Final Truth. Details
EXCLUSIVE: Mahesh Manjrekar on recreating the 1962 Indo-Chinese war & what made him direct Salman Khan’s Antim
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Mahesh Manjrekar makes his digital debut with the Hotstar show, 1962: The War In The Hills, fronted by Abhay Deol, recreating the brave event of 125 Indian soldiers fighting against the might of 3000 army men from China. The filmmaker informs that he came on board as director of the show following a narration given to him by the writers. “Let me not take the credit for writing this, I jumped into it because it was a wonderful opportunity. It’s a page of history that needs to be told and I had never done anything like this before,” he says.

Mahesh further adds that he has tried to bring to the forefront the human side of Indian army, who were on a battle against the Chinese troops. “I wanted to show the man behind the uniform. They are as human as we are, just that they are ready to lay down their life so that we are safe,” he exults and adds that shooting for the show made him understand the hardships faced by the soldiers on a day-to-day basis. “We shot hostile conditions with low oxygen content, but then, that also made us identify with what these soldiers go through. We took time some to acclimatize but then, were all charged up. I hope, people feel a little more for the soldiers after watching this show.”

They are as human as we are, just that they are ready to lay down their life so that we are safe,
Mahesh Manjrekar

The National Award-Winning director sets the record straight by stating that a feature film on this story was not possible. “Though we have packaged it like a cinematic experience, we needed five hours to do justice to the story,” he sighs and informs that Abhay was always their first choice to play the protagonist. Ask him about the responsibility of spinning a story around the Indian army and he replies, “It is of course a responsibility because we are telling story of soldiers, who have that kind of aura. I don’t want their image to be shattered, and we have taken a lot of efforts to showcase them correctly.”

Mahesh gets back to direction in with a major movie star in Hindi after over a decade, with the Salman Khan and Aayush Sharma starrer, Antim: The Final Truth. The entire film was shot in the midst of coronavirus pandemic. Ask him about what kept him away from the Hindi film industry and he explained, “I was doing my own cinema and that should not have any language. I didn’t want a readymade script, especially when you know there are some aspects in the script that you don’t believe in. I have nothing against commercial cinema, but I don’t have the intelligence to project them (laughs). I was waiting for a right script and then I got a script which I could write and tell the story the way I want to. And that film is Antim.”

I was waiting for a right script and then I got a script which I could write and tell the story the way I want to. And that film is Antim
Mahesh Manjrekar

His digital show premieres on February 26 whereas Antim is gearing up for a theatrical release in second half of 2021.

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