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A film pays tribute to the whistleblower who stood up against the oil adulteration mafia in UP
Six years ago, Manjunath Shanmugam, an Indian Oil Corporation official, was killed by the oil adulteration mafia while trying to seal an illicit gas station in Uttar Pradesh. The incident sent shock waves through the public and the civic administration, and even today, Manjunath remains a symbol of integrity. Now, Mumbai-based filmmaker, Sandeep Varma, wants to recreate Manjunath's life in a two-hour-long feature film titled Manjunath. "Manjunath was a man of principles. He never bowed down to intimidation and this will find a resonance among the youth," remarks Varma, 40, an ad filmmaker-turned-director. The film goes on floors in August, with the target of a summer release in 2012.
Varma was first approached for the feature film in 2007 by a member of the Manjunath Shanmugam Trust but he was skeptical. "You admire such people for their work but don't immediately think of making a movie on them," he adds. But after researching Manjunath's life for two years, Varma was able to create a picture of a boy next door who loved music and spending time with friends.
He has written the script himself. He film includes episodes from Manjunath's years at IIM Lucknow, his work, the circumstances that lead to his death and the court case that followed. "He was popular in college and had an active social life, he was also the lead singer of his college rock band, 3.2," says Varma, adding with a smile, "Very few people are aware that Manjunath failed a year at IIM."
Varma has kept the budget under Rs 3.2 crore. The National Film Development Corporation has co-produced the film. Varma has signed Seema Biswas and Yashpal Sharma to play the principal characters. "I don't want to reveal who is portraying Manjunath's character yet," he says. The soundtrack will be by Indian Ocean.