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Siddharth Roy Kapur signs Nagraj Manjule for series on 'matka king' Ratan Khatri

The Sairat (2016) filmmaker will helm the series on the life of the man who ran a gambling empire headquartered in Mumbai.

Our Correspondent

Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur has confirmed a collaboration with director Nagraj Manjule on a web-series on the life of the late Ratan Khatri, former head of a gambling racket in Mumbai.

Speaking to the entertainment weekly Variety, Roy Kapur said, "Matka King is a story that promises to resonate with viewers across languages, geographies and cultures. It is an epic drama with a sweeping canvas, telling the story of the origins of matka [literally, an earthern pot; here referring to a local form of gambling based on numbers drawn from a pot], of the incredible man behind it and of how wealth became accessible to the masses, as this form of betting cut across classes.

"We are excited to collaborate with the supremely talented filmmaker Nagraj Manjule and to have him on board as the showrunner. I have always admired Nagraj’s body of work and Sairat (2016) is one of my favourite movies of the last decade."

The series will be set in the 1960s and 1970s and track the rise of the man who transformed a local parlour game into one of the most popular and flourishing gambling rackets in the country. At its peak in the 1970s, Khatri's gambling dens would accept bets on everything from the price of commodities on the New York Stock Exchange to random numbers, with the daily turnover touching Rs1 crore.

Khatri died in May 2020 of a brief illness. He was believed to be around 88 years old at the time.

The project will mark Manjule's first web-series. The director's latest feature, Jhund, starring Amitabh Bachchan, has been delayed. The film was initially scheduled to be released on 18 June 2021, but has been delayed indefinitely.

The director had announced a trilogy on the Maratha king Shivaji, which has been put on the backburner. The filmmaker has directed the segment titled Vaikunth in the upcoming Amazon Prime Video anthology Unpaused: Naya Safar (2022).

Variety quoted Manjule as saying, "This show will depict the reality of our world seen through the lives of the working classes whose lives depend on these everyday games of chance.

"My work has always tried to reflect the unspoken realities of our country and the common man. Given the widespread popularity of matka and the enigmatic and powerful personality of our protagonist, we hope Matka King will provide a window into an exciting and transformational time in India, previously unexplored on screen.”

A streaming or broadcasting partner for the announced series has yet to be finalised. Roy Kapur's latest production, Aranyak (2021), was made in association with Netflix. The producer also has Rocket Boys (2022) lined up for SonyLIV.