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Friday, August 21, 2015

bio-pic of man who moved mountains - Dashrath Manjhi

In June 2010 I had posted on this man who with his will power moved mountains :   : Man who moved mountains

That was appreciations to   Dashrath Manjhi.  In what could be a  straight lift from  popular movie – Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked this septuagenarian from Gaya to occupy his chair for a little over five minutes. Nitish said that was one way of acknowledging the greatness of the great deed. He however lived in chill penury, died in 2007, at AIIMS New Delhi after fighting cancer of gall bladder. He was accorded state funeral. The reason ……………

Dashrath Manjhi was born in 1934 into a poor labourer's family in Gahlour village near Gaya in Bihar. He fought a lengthy battle against the mountain – not out of any grudge but for a social cause. Not many social reformers have changed the way of life of a particular region or locality. This man dared. He was ridiculed in 1959 when he started hewing a way through the Gahlaur Ghati hills of Bihar’s Gaya district, some 150 km from Patna. People ridiculed his efforts and thoughts stating after ages also they may never come true. He relentlessly pursued his dream single handed. He worked alone with tools of chisel, hammer and shovel trying to make a road in the mountain. Age, health, bereavement nothing deterred him – as he carried on with grit for 22 years and made a reality 360ft-long, 30ft-wide road across the mountain. What was once a precarious passage just a foot wide became wide enough to accommodate cyclists and motorcyclists – helping locals hailing from nearby villages with ease. This road also reduced the distance between Gaya’s Atri and Vazirganj subdivisions from 50km to just 10km. Children from Manjhi’s own Gahlaur and other nearby villages could attend school without the turmoil of walking eight km one way for attending school. From 1960 to 1982 it certainly was a long journey but the accomplishment of herculean task made him happy.

“Manjhi - The Mountain Man”  is an Indian biographical film, based on the life of Dashrath Manjhi.  The film is directed by Ketan Mehta, jointly produced by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and NFDC India.  Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the lead role of Dashrath Manjhi, while Radhika Apte plays Manjhi's wife. The film also features Indira Gandhi in its storyline.

Though the man was not really honoured during his life time, the bio-pic appears to be becoming a poll plank in Bihar.  Nitish Kumar government has given it tax exemption and  also launched an ambitious research and training institute named after Dashrath.  His political rivals are not impressed, though. Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi accused Nitish and Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad of doing precious little in the real life, either for the Mountain Man or his native place Gehlaur.

It is reported that Bihar CM Nitish saw the preview of the film with Mehta and the lead actors — Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte — in Patna.  Impressed by the portrayal of the indomitable spirit of Dashrath,  he announced that the film will be exempt from entertainment tax in Bihar.  “Dashrath Manjhi was a remarkable and charismatic man,” Nitish said. “This film has captured his extraordinary life and struggles rather well and will inspire people.”

The chief minister said that his government had already decided to exempt the movie from entertainment tax in the state so that more and more people could see it.  Besides tax exemption, the Govt  launched a research and training institute of the labour resources department named after the Mountain Man in Patna.

Shortly after his death in 2007, Nitish had launched a scheme called Dashrath Manjhi Kaushal Vikas Yojna to promote skill development of the people in the state. But Hindustan Awam Morcha founder Jitan Ram Manjhi accused Nitish of not doing anything for Dashrath or his village.  Inaugurating a programme organised on Dashrath’s death anniversary in Patna on Monday, Jitan said that Dashrath’s birth place should be developed as an ideal village as well as tourist place.

Earlier, Mehta along with the lead actors in the film visited Dashrath’s village and met his family. They also handed over a cheque of Rs 7.32 lakh to his son and a local trust being run in the name of the Mountain Man.  The man reportedly worked  day-in and day-out for 22 years from 1960 to 1982 with his hammer and chisel to achieve the feat.  Manjhi’s spirit is part of folklore in Bihar now.

The man apart, the film has received this review in the Firstpost :  - If you go to watch Manjhi — The Mountain Man, you get two films for the price of one. Post-intermission, when the film trains its gaze upon Dasharath and his mountain, the film turns into 127 Hours, Bihar-style. Before that, it's an earnest film with a social message. Through all this, Manjhi — The Mountain Man is a salute to the acting skills of Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Net result: a film that is so comprehensively artificial that you'll forget Dashrath Manjhi was a real man and that his is a true story.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Aug 2015.


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