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RRR writer KV Vijayendra Prasad joins 1770 - Ek Sangram, a remake of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's Anandamath

Filmmaker Ram Kamal Mukherjee and former Zee Studios head Sujoyy Kuttiy are already on board as creative producers.

KV Vijayendra Prasad with Ram Kamal Mukherjee, Sujoyy Kuttiy, Shhailendra Kkumar and Suraj Sharma

Our Correspondent

On 8 April, the 128th death anniversary of novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, writer-turned-filmmaker Ram Kamal Mukherjee and former Zee Studios head Sujoyy Kuttiy, announced that screenwriter KV Vijayendra Prasad is joining their magnum opus 1770 - Ek Sangram, which is inspired by the author's 1882 Bengali book Anandamath.

This feature film, due to be released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, will be produced by Shhailendra Kkumar from SS1 Entertainment and Suraj Sharma from PK Entertainments.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the song 'Vande Matram', which helped fuel the Swaraj movement against the British empire. Chatterjee had composed the song for Anandamath and it was earlier published in the magazine Bangadarshan in 1872.

In 1952, Hemen Gupta helmed an adaptation of Chatterjee’s novel with Anand Math. Starring Prithviraj Kapoor, Bharat Bhushan, Pradeep Kumar, Geeta Bali and Ajit, the film featured music by Hemant Kumar.

KV Vijayendra Prasad, fresh of the success of RRR (2022), helmed by his filmmaker son SS Rajamouli, stated, “When Sujoyy approached me for Anandamath, I was a bit taken aback. I had read the novel many years ago, and frankly speaking, I didn't feel that today's generation would be able to connect with the subject.”

“But I met Ram Kamal and he shared his vision; he had a completely different take on the novel,” KV Vijayendra Prasad said. “It was commercial and connected with human emotions. After a couple of sessions, now I am excited to work on the subject with a completely fresh perspective. It will be a huge challenge for me, to recreate the magic of Anandamath.”

Sujoyy stated, “I am glad that we are revisiting classics. I am excited to recreate the magic of Vande Mataram on screen. I have worked with Vijayendra sir in Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (2019) and also worked closely with him on a couple of other projects too.”

“When Ram Kamal approached me with 1770 - Ek Sangram, I immediately thought of Vijayendra sir, because of its scale and structure. I am glad that we have young producers like Shhailendra Kkumar and Suraj Sharma who believe that the screenplay is the real hero of the film. Once we are ready with the first draft of the screenplay, we will start locking our main leads.”

Mukherjee revealed that this was his dream project. “I will be working with India's celebrated creative team, and make sure that it's a visual treat for audiences,” he said. “I feel that this is the right time to tell the story of Anandamath. The story of Sanyasis who fought against the British Raj and sowed the seed of independence. I felt that this story can be recreated on celluloid on a different scale."

The big-budget feature is due to be shot in Hyderabad, West Bengal, and also in London, England.

The 21-year-old producer Sharma extended his thanks to the rest of the team for handling the creative aspects of the film. He said, “As a student, I was inspired by movies based on novels. I have grown up watching films like Lagaan (2001), Jodhaa Akbar (2008), Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Bahubaali: The Beginning (2015). We read Bankim Chandra's work in our school, but they didn't have Anandamath in the syllabus. So when Ram Kamal sir, narrated the story, I was excited.”

He added, “Unfortunately people have forgotten these gems that we have in our literature. I was certain that I would like to debut as a producer with a film that would connect with the soul of India.”

Music composer Shhailendra Kkumar, who turns producer with this project, said, “When Dada (Ram Kamal) narrated the story, I was certain that I would like to produce the film. I knew Suraj and his family, and we decided to collaborate on this film. With Vijayendra sir's magical touch, this film will be appreciated both critically and commercially.”

The team is busy moving between Mumbai and Hyderabad to lock the first draft of the screenplay. They expect to launch the teaser poster of the film by the end of May.

“We are expecting to shoot from October 2022, while we will need 120 days of pre-production. This is a mammoth project and requires a massive budget to mount. It will take almost a year and a half to make this film,” Mukherjee revealed.