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‘Lokmanya – Man of Age’ Arousing a generation from apathy

Director Om Raut’s film ‘Lokmanya – Man of Age’ is a biopic on freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, the ‘Father of Indian Unrest’. In conversation with NT BUZZ, the Marathi filmmaker talks about the challenges faced during the making of the film and how the film changed him


By Arti Das | NT BUZZ

Why you choose to make a film on Lokmanya Tilak for your first directoral venture?

If we look at our post-independence scenario there are no political leaders we can look up to. Our political system does not see even one-third youth representation. We need to look at our past, and Lokmanya Tilak is the first leader of the Indian independence movement. He had this idea of united India and didn’t restrict himself to provinces like Tatya Tope and Rani Laxmibai. You see my father is a journalist and Tilak was also a journalist. He had started the newspaper ‘Kesri’. So I grew up I grew up listening to his stories and that is the other reason I chose Tilak as the subject of my first film as director.

How much research went into this film?

I spent three years on making this film. I read books, interviewed various historians, experts and Tilak’s grandson Deepak Tilak.  I spent more than a year on writing the script as I would be portraying the period from 1870 to 1914 in the film. We tried to gather all details about Tilak and realised that he was like just any other youth, but his commitment towards the nation and his fight for swaraj is what made him stand apart. We need such an inspiration in today’s times.

The movie is a period film, but it also reflects the today’s socio-political scenario through the protagonist, who is a journalist. This does remind one of the film Rang De Basanti. Comment.

To start with, I loved Rang De Basanti (RDB). But, RDB was a very dramatic film where the characters opt for voilence and hijack a radio station. But, in my film, the journalist is like any other person. He starts reading about Tilak and his whole perspective towards society changes. He then works towards bringing about change in his personal capacity. I think that’s what we need to work on.

You projected Lokmanya as larger than life in the movie. Was there any particular reason behind this decision?

Lokmanya Tilak had a larger than life personality. He gave a lot of importance to fitness and health. It was because of this healthy lifestyle that he followed that he could spent six years in the Mandalay jail in a 10X10 cell. I was sending out a subtle message about health and fitness as today’s youth lead a very unhealthy life.

Did you cast Subodh Bhave to play Lokmanya Tilak because he had successfully portrayed the title role in the movie Balgandharva?

Subodh is a very sincere and a passionate actor. We lived this dream together and, most importantly, he had faith in me, a debutant director.

You also focused on the issue of age of consent and child marriage in this movie. Was it deliberate?

In this movie I have shown that Lokmanya Tilak was against child marriage. He was wanted freedom first and then social reforms whereas his friend Agarkar wanted reforms first and then independence. Interestingly, it resulted in the banning of child marriage in the 1890s, more than 60 years before independence. Now, even after 67 years of independence, we are still battling this evil. According to reports, in the temple town of Pandharpur there are 200 child marriages reported, every year. This is something we need to ponder over.

(Lokmanya – Man of Age will be screened on November 26 at 6 p.m. at INOX Screen II)


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