Rajkumar Santoshi on two sides his film, Gandhi Godse-Ek Yudh

His patriotic film The Legend of Bhagat Singh, which was a huge success at the box office. This time, Santoshi takes a controversial topic to play up on without caring much about the backlashes.
A still from the film
A still from the film

Renowned director Rajkumar Santoshi is back with another patriotic film Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh, years after The Legend of Bhagat Singh, which was a huge success at the box office. This time, Santoshi takes
a controversial topic to play up on without caring much about the backlashes. We had a quick chat with him on the same.

Did you want to break the notion that people generally have about Godse through this film?

Well, I was discussing with our writer Asghar Wajahat on a very different subject when he mentioned his play called Godse@Gandhi.com. The subject immediately struck me and I started thinking about it. I researched and went through books, only to realise that history hasn’t done any justice either to Mahatma Gandhi or Nathuram Godse. Lots of fingers have been pointed at both. Gandhi never got a chance to justify himself. Godse gave a statement, yet that was banned for 70+ years. All these years, we never knew their point of view and this is a first of its kind in Indian cinema, where two real-life characters are placed in a fictional world. But the conservation they have in the film constitutes facts, their thought and their words.

Because it’s a sensitive topic, weren’t you afraid of a backlash?

I have been very honest and fair to both Gandhi and Godse in this film. And when both these characters have been so fearless and bold, how can I be scared of backlashes? I got a ‘U’ certificate from the censor board which said that such films should be shown in educational institutions.

How easy or difficult was the casting for this film?

It was a little difficult since I decided from the very beginning that I will not cast any stars in this film,
and wanted a Gujarati actor to play Gandhi, and a Marathi actor to play Godse. I also wanted the actors
to resemble both of them. There were no prosthetics involved. Deepak Antani plays Gandhi, and Chinmay Mandlekar plays Godse, both seasoned theatre actors.

Rajkumar Santoshi
Rajkumar Santoshi

Your daughter, Tanisha Santoshi, is making her debut in this film?

My daughter has done a course in direction and wanted to pursue that. In the film, there’s a small love story and I needed a young boy and a girl. My casting director suggested Anuj Saini and I was looking for a girl who would play his love interest. Tanisha asked me to take her audition. She has been just like any other actor and has been very sincere.

This movie is coming after a nine-year-long gap after Phata Poster Nikla Hero. Was this a conscious break?

It wasn’t a conscious break, but after that movie, I was not comfortable with the way the industry was working. Everyone wanted me to work with stars, which I felt was an unhealthy way of approaching a cinema. I would be happy if I were asked about my film first, and then about the cast, and not the other way round. I have always believed that the first choice should be the content, and to make sure it reaches the world, you choose actors. I was making a film on the Battle of Sarhagarhi, for an OTT platform, I shot for 20 days, when a film on the topic, Kesari, was released. The investors got scared and backed out. I lost both time and money and frankly speaking I did not enjoy this long break.

What’s up next?

I have 2-3 films lined up. I plan to release my next on The Partition, on January 26, 2024.

Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh is releasing at the theatres today.

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