Ek Albela – In conversation with Shekhar Sartandel – A tribute to Hindi Cinema’s first action and dance hero – Bhagwan Dada

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Forced to give up studies after the primary school, he did odd jobs but he had only one aim – joining films. He had also joined a local gym to build up his muscles. He frequented the studios in order to get discovered. Getting a break in 1930s, in a silent film, Bhagwan Dada’s journey has been that of an ambitious artist. Son of a textile mill worker, his childhood, in the labour areas of Parel and Dadar in Mumbai was deprived of any luxury. An admirer of cinema, he worshipped the stars of the day. Plump and stout, slow moving, with bulging eyes, Bhagwan Aabaji Palav aka Bhagwan dada was very different from the idea of a romantic hero. But the never-say-die spirit of this man brought him in limelight. From a mere supporting, comic actor to Hindi cinema’s first action and dance hero. Loved and cherished by all. Even today, the crowds get frenzied every time they hear Shola jo bhadke, dil mera dhadke or Bholi surat dil ke khote, naam bade aur darshan chhote from his film Albela

Keeping in mind the star status of this iconic actor, Kimaya Motion Pictures has made a biopic in Marathi called Ek Albela. It is a classic journey of a man who came up from nothing & went on to become a Legend, leaving behind a legacy that will entertain us forever.

Producor : Dr Monish Babre
Director : Shekhar Sartandel
Production House : Kimaya Motion Pictures
Studio : Manglmurti Films
Star Cast : Mangesh Desai as Bhagwan Dada and Vidya Balan as Geeta Bali
Writer : Shekhar Sartandel & Amol Shetge
Music : Santosh Mulekar
Screenplay & Dialogue : Shekhar Sartandel & Amol Shetge
Cinematography : Uday Devare
Art Director : Baban Adagale
Make up : Vidyadhar Bhatte

Here’s a snippet of our conversation with the director Shekhar Sartandel

The director of the biopic, Shekhar Sartandel, is Head of the department of Rachna Sansad Film Institute in Mumbai. He loves reading about the lives of past artists and was always inclined, from the beginning, to direct a biopic. Opportunity came knocking, when he met the producer of the film Dr. Babre, who asked him whether he would like to direct such a biopic. When asked why he zeroed on Bhagwan Dada as his subject for a biopic in Marathi, Shekhar Sartandel said, “India’s 1st biopic on a Hindi film actor should be in Marathi as the actor himself was a Maharashtrian”. For the mere love of the subject, Shekhar Sartandel, studied minute details of the actor. He spent nearly 7-8 months writing a script after the detailed study of that era too. He had also collected many articles from 1940s-50s, including Bhagwan Dada’s interviews in the periodicals. He further states, such was his passion for making this film that he himself collected all the references for art and costumes and gave them to the respective heads of the art and costume departments. He said that he had cast his actors as per perfect physical characterisation, talent and lastly popularity.

Vidya Balan, who plays the role of yesteryear popular actress Geeta Bali, brings a sparkle on the screen. Shekhar Sartandel describes her as an amazing lady, who has high respect for the director. Besides being studious and intelligent, she is also humble and genuine. Giving an example of her professionalism, he recalls, “On a particular day because of the media on the set, we got late for the shooting, but Vidya assured me of her co-operation. Instead of 12 hrs, she worked for 15 hrs that day and went home only after she completed the shoot”.

The director says that he conducted extensive rehearsals, if not workshops, throughout the shoots. These rehearsals were either done on the sets or the make up rooms. He did not give it a go till the time he found it completely satisfying. Be it a dance rehearsal or the dialogues. He wanted 100% input from his team. We asked him about his expectations from the film and he said, “People should come and watch a journey of a common man who lived in a Dadar chawl and who was silver screen’s 1st dance and action hero, who taught a unique style of dance to India”.

TheSongPedia wishes, director Shekhar Sartandel and his team all the success with this monumental and hard work!!

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

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