After working in a few candy floss entertainers in the last few months, actor Varun Dhawan is back with director Sriram Raghavan to deliver a meaty real-life story. The actor’s next features him in the role of Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal who is considered one of the most celebrated Indian officers after his contribution in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The man who faced relentless attacks and fought with courage in front of the Pakistan army during the war was posthumously awarded Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military award.
Now, in a film that’s yet to be titled, Varun Dhawan gives tribute to the decorated officer and also fulfills his wish of starring in a war drama. The film is being produced by Dinesh Vijan who also backed Varun and Sriram’s earlier film Badlpaur (2015). The entire team of the film is quite excited and emotional to be bringing out a story that’s rooted in nationalism and is heavily inspiring.
Breaking the news to Mumbai Mirror, producer Dinesh Vijan revealed that they met Arun’s brother Mukesh Khetarpal in Delhi and heard the story of bravery from him. He said Arun’s story moved him deeply, especially his bond with his father. Dinesh added that even he lost his father five years back and he misses him everyday, therefore, he could sense the pain and emotions of a brother and a father. The producer was quoted saying, “Arun Khetarpal was one of Poona Horse’s most celebrated Lieutenants. When Mukesh (his brother) narrated his story in Delhi, we were already enamoured by his bravery but what connected me more was Arun’s equation with his father. It’s a huge responsibility to make this biopic. We are indebted to the family and to the Poona Horse regiment for allowing us the honour of telling Arun’s story. We hope to make them proud.”
Varun also mentioned that the story of the film moved him to the core and hearing it from a brother meant too much to him. “When I heard Arun Khetarpal’s story I was awed that this could have actually happened! I understood then why Dinoo (Dinesh Vijan) and Sriram are so passionate about it. When I met Arun’s brother Mukesh, I was moved. I too have a brother and I can’t understand what he must have gone through,” he said.
Calling it the ‘most important’ film of his career, the Judwaa 2-star added that he wishes to make all Indians feel proud of the film and his performance as the story of bravery unfolds on the screen.
Even director Sriram Raghavan is sure that it’s a ‘solid story’ and something that should be told and remembered. The director said he had his own memories with the 1971 war as a kid and that’s the reason he first hesitated when Vijan came to him with the story. However, he said he reconsidered his decision because of the story and respect for war films. “The courage of Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal during the 1971 Battle of Basantar is well known. Movies set in wartime have always moved me and this made me reconsider my decision. This is a solid story told over two generations of soldiers and we hope we can do justice to it,” Raghavan explained.
The details regarding the shooting of the film and its release date are yet to be out. As is, Varun seems to be on a roll by managing a great lineup of films. He is currently gearing up for the release of two big films – the remake of Coolie No. 1 with Sara Ali Khan and Street Dancer with Shraddha Kapoor.