Ace filmmaker Ronnie Screwvala and Meghna Gulzar have come together to tell us the story of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw who was the Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Meghna Gulzar is now set to direct her next, the biopic on Sam Manekshaw, the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. He was the Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and his military career spanned four decades and five wars.
When asked Meghna about this, she said, “It’s bitter-sweet, moving from one film to the next, but it’s always a pleasure to tell a story that has grabbed your attention instinctively. The life that the Field Martial has lived is vast and rich so it’s quite daunting to be able to do justice to it in two hours on celluloid. Ronnie approached me sometime in 2015 saying that he wanted to work with me and I felt flattered because I look up to his work. We didn’t even have a subject back them but over conversations the idea of a film on Sam Manekshaw came up. I leapt at the idea,”
Prod her on the prep for her upcoming directorial and the filmmaker informs, “We are currently in the early stages of writing while research has been on for a year because it’s an exhaustive subject. I only started internalising the material when Raazi was going into post production. The film requires tremendous prep. One part of the film will be set in the era of the ’71 war which is fairly familiar for me right now (Raazi was set in the 1970s as well) but otherwise it’s a whole new world.”
Next up, Meghna will be meeting Manekshaw’s daughter and grandchildren in the next couple of months. “I’m also happy to be teaming up with my Raazi cowriter Bhavani Iyer again along with another bright new writer, Shantanu Srivastava,” she adds.
Producer Ronnie Screwvala is equally excited about the film. “I have always felt that India lacks role models. When it came to Sam Manekshaw, it’s a story that must be told and it’s not only about him being India’s first and only field marshal or being at the forefront of the wars we fought against Pakistan, but also about it being an inspirational story. I am also related to the Manekshaws from my wife’s (Zarina Mehta) side. Meghna and I were talking about how I loved what she did with Talvar when we got Sam Manekshaw’s story on the table. It took her a few seconds to say that it is what she would like to do after Raazi,” Ronnie says.
Speaking about his plans for the project, the filmmaker adds, “In the next three months, we should have our script ready. The movie needs at least six months of prep. When we go on the floors also depends on the lead actors and their dates. The character obviously ages through a certain time and he is as smart and disciplined as he is mischievous. Charm is also an important aspect to factor in as Manekshaw always had time for a joke no matter how busy he was. We have Mr Manekshaw’s family on board along with his then first and second assistants in the Army, besides a lot of compatriots and colleagues to ensure the story remains authentic.”
Ronnie Screwvala is tapping into various platforms to give the audience varied content on their adaptable viewing platform.