The primary challenge of a period drama is to nail the look of it. But in the hands of a National Award-winning maverick like Ketan Mehta, who is known for the authenticity of the cinematic universes he creates, one can only expect magic. The filmmaker is currently developing the biopic of his aunt – freedom fighter Usha Mehta.
Even as the final draft of the story is being worked upon, the filmmaker and his team have simultaneously started working on the recreation of the era. Unfazed by the fact that Dharma Productions, too, is developing a story on the same subject, Mehta and company are viewing the film as a personal story of the gritty Usha told from an intimate place.
A source close to the project informs, “Mehta’s team has reached out to well-known art directors who have a sound knowledge of the era. A team of historians are vetting everything to ensure that the period is holistically depicted. The pre-independence era is vast and things were changing year on year due to the socio-political changes. From the fabrics that will be used to the articles placed, the team has already begun the process of world-building.”
The source continued, “The 1920s, 1930s and 1940s which are the decades that capture maximum screen time has to be rendered with detailing. A large part of the action will be set in old Bombay for which the crew has kickstarted their recces. The film will be mounted on a lavish budget and will be shot in sets recreating the period as well as multiple real locations. It will also have a fair share of VFX work to support the grandeur.”
Known for his nuanced storytelling, the film has a host of the industry’s most proficient technicians on board. For Ketan Mehta, the film is a tribute to his late aunt. The source adds, “Ketan sir has a lot of first-hand anecdotes from his aunt and many personal items, notes and diaries which we are referencing from.”
While the casting is yet to be locked, it’s rumoured that Mehta is keen to get either Taapsee Pannu or Bhumi Pednekar to play Usha.