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Rahul Dholakia to partner with Excel Entertainment for film on firefighters


The director, who worked with producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani on Raees (2017), has been working on the untitled project for a year-and-a-half.

Sonal Pandya

After exploring the rise of a bootlegger in Gujarat with Raees (2017), writer-director Rahul Dholakia is turning his attention to firefighters for his next film. Dholakia is working on a feature centred around a firefighter, Tukaram, and his battles to put out fires across the city.

According to a report in Mumbai Mirror, a tabloid, the film is not based on any real-life person, but will borrow elements from real-life incidents. The upcoming project, to be produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani's Excel Entertainment, is said to be “an emotional father-son story, with an antagonist thrown in to create friction”.  

The director, who worked with producers Farhan and Sidhwani on Raees, has been working on the untitled project for a year-and-a-half. The news of several high-profile fires in the city, from RK Studios to restaurants in Kamala Mills, made the director look at a story about firefighters, who have been largely ignored in films.

“But a series of fires in the city of late makes me believe that it’s time for a film that celebrates these unsung heroes. For me, the firefighters are on par with cops and soldiers, but their heroics have gone largely unacknowledged even in a city of skyscrapers. They put their lives on the line every other day to put out and save us from fires which sometimes spark off from our own carelessness and violation of safety norms. They are also called to pull a child out of a borewell, rescue a kitten from the roof, clear an uprooted tree from the road and help during a building collapse or a deluge. Even during the 26/11 attacks they played a significant role in the rescue [operations] but went unheralded,” the director told Mumbai Mirror.

Dholakia has been hard at work on researching the lives of firefighters in the city and visited many fire stations as well. He has also gotten Tumhari Sulu (2017) writer Vijay Maurya and writer-director Zoya Akhtar to collaborate with him on the dialogues for the film.

The director said the producers had approved the first draft of the script.

“Farhan has contributed a lot of inputs to the script and Ritesh is a brilliant producer. This is a big film and will cost a lot. It requires sensitive makers because while being visually dramatic, it needs to be an ‘experience’ for the audience to see and feel. Having worked with Farhan and Ritesh on Raees, I can’t think of anyone better to take this film forward with me.”

However, the project still doesn’t have a lead actor. Dholakia revealed that he needed “a 40-plus actor to play Tukaram”. The options point to a number of A-list stars in the industry, including the Raees star Shah Rukh Khan.