The trailer of Pankaj Tripathi’s upcoming ZEE5 film Kaagaz, based on the real-life story of Lal Bihari Mritak is out. Bharat, who has been marked as ‘dead’ in the official government papers, is waging a war for reclaiming his identity for 19 years. The film is directed by actor-filmmaker Satish Kaushik. The film is produced by Salma Khan, Nishant Kaushik and Vikas Malu. It marks the directorial comeback of Satish Kaushik after six years.
Bharat has family, hopes, and dreams for his future but he is given an officially 'dead' status. He leaves no stone unturned to claim what is rightfully his. In the course of his struggle, he also becomes a social worker. He adds “Mritak” (deceased) as a suffix to his name to get the country and the media’s attention. He even asks the village sarpanch to sign the required documents as he files a case in court.
Talking about the film, Satish Kaushik says he has reinvented himself as a director with his upcoming feature "Kaagaz", courtesy the film's lead actor Pankaj Tripathi who brought in a renewed energy to the project.
In a virtual press conference, Kaushik, known for directing movies such as "Tere Naam" and "Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain", said he wanted to push himself as a director and "Kaagaz" presented him with the perfect platform.
"When a new generation comes in, everything changes, the way we work, our atmosphere. We then become old. But I wanted to do something new. As an actor, I keep showcasing that I'm updated, but as a director, I wanted to update myself.
"Pankaj has played a huge part in that. The moment I met him, I realised how I can update, innovate and reinvent myself through 'Kaagaz' with Pankaj. 'Kaagaz is my reinvention as a director," Kaushik told reporters.
The drama, which was earlier scheduled to release in May, was pushed due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The film is now releasing on streamer ZEE5 on January 7.
The 64-year-old actor said much like his protagonist in "Kaagaz", even he had an 18-year struggle to mount the film.
Kaushik had first read about Lal's fascinating story when he was shooting for his 2001 romantic-drama "Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai".
Two years later, Kaushik bought the rights to make a film on the subject but it wasn't until a decade later that things moved in a positive direction.
"Back then, no would even think that it's possible to make a film based on a true story. It's only post 2010 that the trend (of biopics) started. For seven years, I would tell people my plan to make the film, they'd appreciate but wonder how will it be possible.
"When 'Paan Singh Tomar' came in 2012, it got me excited. I thought even I have a fantastic story of a common man dealing with the system."
What followed was several rewrites with his team of writers and it was only around 2016-2017, that Kaushik had a breakthrough and felt the script was falling in place.
"Then a big producer came on board and had also signed an actor. But I didn't find him suitable. I was still finding my Bharat Lal. When I saw Pankaj, I felt he was so understated and was doing consecutive remarkable work.
"My struggle came to an end the moment I approached him and he loved the narration. His confidence encouraged me to make the film any how," he added.
Apart from premiering digitally, the film will also be released in select theatres in Uttar Pradesh.
(With PTI inputs)