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Never worked harder than I am doing now on Thackeray biopic, says Nawazuddin

The star said the offer of the role came as a surprise and he was willing to adjust his dates.

Mayur Lookhar

It came as a shock to many, particularly those who swear by the Shiv Sena's hardline Hindutva ideology, when party ideologue Sanjay Raut chose Nawazuddin Sddiqui to play founder Bal Thackeray in a forthcoming biopic.

Indeed, it came as a surprise to Siddiqui too. The actor revealed that Raut had invited him for a meeting over tea at a hotel and he had no inkling what was in the Rajya Sabha member's mind.

Recalling the moment when the role was offered to him, Siddiqui said, “I couldn't believe it. I remember [Sanjay Raut] sir had invited me for tea in a hotel. We spoke of this and that for a while and then he just said, ‘Balasaheb ka role karna hai [You should play Thackeray’s role]'.”

Raut, who is producing the film, had earlier approached the star's manager and was told the dates could be a problem. But Raut said Siddiqui later sent him a message that he was willing to adjust his dates for the role.

While Thackeray died in November 2012 and Siddiqui had never met him, the actor has been reading up on and watching whatever he could of Thackeray. "I have worked hard on this film, probably harder than on any other film so far," he said. "I must thank [Raut] sir and my director who showed confidence in me. An actor can go places when he has the confidence of the director.”

Directed by Abhijit Panse, Thackeray will be made in Marathi and Hindi. The film is planned for release on 23 January 2019, the day Thackeray would have turned 93.