Are you 30-ish, Punjabi and with a penchant for passionate poetry? A hunt is on for the ideal individual to play the legendary Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi in a bio-pic to be directed by Mudazzar Aziz.
He died at age 36 of a broken heart. The legendary Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi wrote immortal love poems but couldn't get the woman he loved.
And now Batalvi's love and poems will be a part of a feature film to be directed by Mudassar Aziz. Once known as Sushmita Sen's boyfriend, Mudassar is today struggling to establish a foothold among the fraternity of filmmakers in Mumbai.
The film's producer Sunil Bohra says he will be traveling to Pakistan to get the correct face for the part. He will also be shooting the film in Pakistan. However, there is a problem with the travel across the border. Bohra is phobic about air travel. He will therefore be traveling to and fro between the Indian border and Pakistan by train and bus with his unit.
Bohra says he chose Mudassar because the young director has felt the pangs of love and what it feels to lose it. Says Bohra, "I wanted someone with a wounded heart. Batalvi spent his entire lifetime writing the most exquisite love poems. He wrote about love because he couldn't get the woman he loved. His lines are sung, hummed, chanted and used in everyday language. There's a Batalvi Diwas celebrated among NRIs Punjabis in the UK and the US."
Bohra has spent the last three years of his life researching Batalvi's poetry. "To me the man is the poetry. The hero of my film will be the poetry. I've gone through all of it. We've shifted through his entire body of work. Believe me, to go through Batalvi's poetry is to be born again as a human being. His lines are life-changing. I am using his poetry for the lyrics. And the composition and voices would be by musicians from India and Pakistan."
Interestingly, Bohra wants to shoot the film in Pakistan. "Yes, a part of the film will be shot in Pakistan. Batalvi was born in Sialkot district which is now in Pakistan. We are in the process of getting the relevant permission."
In the meanwhile, Mudassar Aziz is going ahead full-throttle with his pre-production. Says Aziz, "This is a film that a far experienced filmmaker should have made. It is the most incredible story. It has romance, passion, pathos and above all, poetry. And all in larger-than-life shades. I will have to travel all over Punjab and to Pakistan. If I am making a film on Batalvi, I want it to be a work that would do him proud."