A still from the upcoming film; (right) the proposed Shivaji memorial
The state government's decision to build a 210-metre tall memorial statue of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji on a 16-hectare islet in the Arabian Sea has been questioned, and amid the furore, an upcoming Marathi film is now set to highlight the raging issue.
Titled Baghtos Kay Mujra Kar, the movie focusses on a village where a once majestic fort is in a shambles, but instead of restoring it, a grand plan to build a memorial worth Rs 1600 crore is hatched.
The film's director, Hemant Dhome, says, "The statue project was conceived 12 years ago and the cost was pegged at Rs 100-crore. There are 375 forts, most of them in ruins. When we started the film, the project's worth was at Rs 900 crore and now, it is Rs 3,600 crore. If we are proposing a Statue of Liberty-like monument, then there are bigger things to fix here. The first thing any foreign tourist spots from their plane is the slums of Dharavi," he says sarcastically.
The director points out there is no pride in building Shivaji's memorial and neglecting places he had erected. "No one is asking them not to create a memorial. They must, by all means. But what about investing in restoration of the 375 forts in and around Mumbai?"
The film, which releases next month, is backed by Eros and producers of acclaimed films, Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy, Shikshanachya Aaicha Gho, Moraya and Tukaram. Producer Sanjay Chabria says, "We have historic places, which are potential tourist spots, but there is hardly any political motivation to transform them. Make the monuments, but protect the history behind them too."