In an exclusive interview with IndiaToday.in, Anand Kumar, Patna-based mathematician whose life story will be shown on the big screen in Super 30, talked about what went behind making Super 30, why he wanted Hrithik Roshan to play his character, his take on #MeToo allegations against Vikas Bahl and more.
Bollywood has caught on to the trend of biopics and why not. The industry has given back-to-back hits, showing extraordinary lives of ordinary people on the big screen. Super 30 is one such film in the coming days. The film marks Hrithik Roshan's return to the big screen after two years, playing the role of Patna-based mathematician Anand Kumar, who turned many underprivileged kids' lives around, teaching them for free and helping them secure a coveted Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) seat.
Super 30 the film is a reflection of the 'Big Indian Dream' and the hard work that goes in into achieving it. In an exclusive conversation with IndiaToday.in, Anand Kumar takes us behind the scenes of Super 30 and elaborates on how his life has been captured on reel for the audience to witness on the big screen.
Excerpts from the conversation:
'HRITHIK'S WILLINGNESS TO DO THIS FILM WAS COMMENDABLE'
From the script to deciding the lead actor, Anand has had a significant voice in the decision-making process of the film. He chose Hrithik Roshan to portray his character on screen as he saw the actor reflect the same sincerity towards his craft as Kumar did towards teaching.
Anand says, "I don't want to hurt anybody's sentiment but I met a lot of actors, directors and producers, but when I met producer Madhu Mantena, I had a feeling that he is good. Since I was involved in the decision-making process of the film, I, along with Madhu, selected Vikas Bahl to direct the film. Then the three of us decided to cast Hrithik Roshan in the film."
About why he narrowed it down to Hrithik to play his role on the screen, he says, "The way Hrithik showed his happiness and excitement after meeting me, I felt like he is such a big star, he will definitely give his 100 per cent to the film. And I knew, if he dedicates himself [to the film], things will be aptly shown on the big screen. His willingness to do the film was commendable."
'I HAD NEVER HEARD OF VIKAS BAHL BEFORE SUPER 30 CAME UP'
Anand hadn't heard of Vikas before meeting the director but when he heard of Bahl's film Queen, there was nothing more to be asked. "I had never heard of Vikas Bahl before Madhu Mantena ji mentioned him to me. He told me that Vikas directed Queen. I had watched Queen with my wife and the film appealed to me. At that time, I realised that he is a good, hardworking director. When I had a conversation with him, I was really impressed and I knew that he would work really hard on the film," he says.
Working with Vikas wasn't a cakewalk. Anand and Vikas had a few heated discussions before they decided on the script. "I understand that you have to keep certain things to entertain the audience in a film, but you should always show certain incidents exactly like they happened to maintain the authenticity of the story. So we had certain heated discussions on the script but, in the end, we finalised the script after changing it 12 times," he said.
'VIKAS TRAVELLED TO REMOTE VILLAGES TO TALK TO KIDS'
Super 30 required both Vikas and Hrithik to study Anand and his life in depth and they did exactly that, says Anand. He explains, "They have done justice to my story. Vikas ji used to go to villages to meet kids and would talk to people to give more depth to the script. He would go to remote areas where there would be no roads. You cannot travel in vehicles there, so he would walk to reach such places and talk to people. The film is the result of this hard work."
He adds, "I remember Vikas telling me, 'This is the biggest film of my career and this is not just a story of a teacher, it also reflects the lives of those underprivileged kids who made it big. So it is a film that will reflect all those stories.'"
'HRITHIK WAS SO ENGROSSED IN TALKING TO ME THAT HE ALMOST WALKED OUT OF HIS HOUSE BAREFEET'
Hrithik was last seen on the big screen in 2017 in Kaabil. Since he was returning to the big screen after such a long time, he had to make it count. "The makers and Hrithik studied my character well. They made a video of 150 hours of me. It had clips of me teaching and the way I talk to my family members. Hrtithik used that video as a case study to understand me. He also called me six-seven times to Mumbai to have discussions with me. One time, he was so engrossed in talking to me that he almost walked out of his house barefeet while escorting me out. One of his staff members came running to remind him that he had forgotten to wear his slippers," Anand says.
'HRITHIK HAD A TRAINER TO TEACH HIM THE DIALECT'
Ever since the trailer of Super 30 was released, it has been trolled no end. The criticism has mostly been directed at Hrithik Roshan's accent and his darkened complexion. Anand, however, explains why both these elements were crucial to the film. "Hrithik has worked really hard for the film. He even had a trainer who taught him the proper dialect. I had multiple conversations with the trainer also. I told him not to teach Hrithik Bhojpuri but to teach him Hindi in a Bihari accent, like I speak," says the mathematician.
Kumar adds, "If I talk about colour, when you teach kids in immense heat in a room that is made of tin-shed, your skin tone gets darker and since they saw me like that in my videos, they replicated it in the film. Log ye baat samajh nahi rahe hai."