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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Enter the Ring

A biopic,detailing the life and times of India’s first Olympic medallist Khashaba Jadhav,is based on Pune-based Sanjay Dudhane’s book Olympicveer Khashaba Jadhav

Written by Garima Mishra | Published: September 6, 2013 3:11:56 am

On a cold morning in January,1948,an excited bunch of spectators had gathered on the banks of Godavari in Nashik. The people had come to witness the state-level wrestling championship,craning their necks to look at the hefty wrestlers. Amid them,a lean young boy’s presence seemed conspicuous. The boy,from Karad,was to be pitted against the bulky wrestlers and the cash prize was Re 1. The derogatory announcement had no effect on the young boy’s spirit,entering the ring to fight with Rakshe,a veteran wrestler from Mumbai. Within 15 seconds,he was able to defeat Rakshe. His name was Khashaba Jadhav,popularly known as ‘Pocket Dynamo’,who brought laurels to the nation when he became the country’s first Olympic medallist by winning a bronze medal for freestyle wrestling at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Jadhav’s journey will come alive in the form of a Hindi biopic titled Pocket Dynamo,produced by actor-producer Riteish Deshmukh. Based on the book Olympicveer Khashaba Jadhav by Pune-based writer Sanjay Dudhane,the film will also have a Marathi version,called Khashaba.

Deshmukh obtained the rights for the film in May from Khashaba Jadhav Vikas Sanstha,a trust established by Ranjit,son of the legendary wrestler. “My father never got his due respect and honour when he was alive; the fact can’t be changed now. Yet I feel that making a film,which can portray him in a true sense,will be a real tribute to him,” says Ranjit,adding that the screenplay of film,which will go on the floors in the coming year,is written by Tejpal Wagh.

Recalling the time when he first came in contact with Jadhav,who passed away in 1984,Dudhane says,“I did my schooling from Kolhapur and one day,I came across his memorial as I was taking a stroll in the city. When I read the details in it,I realised how big Khashaba Jadhav really was.”

When Dudhane was 22 and was pursuing a graduation course from Pune’s Fergusson College,he was asked by his professor to write an article for the college journal. After brainstorming for a week,he decided to write a piece on Jadhav. However,Dudhane was determined to do a thorough research for his article. He travelled to Karad,the village where Jadhav’s family resided. “When I met his wife Kusum,she welcomed me with such warmth. The moment she showed me the Olympic medal,I felt strangely overwhelmed. There began my fascination for the wrestler,” he recalls,adding that even after he submitted the article for his college journal,he continued his research through constant visits to Karad,Sangli,Satara,Mumbai,Delhi and Kolhapur to meet Jadhav’s friends,relatives and gurus. “In Mumbai,I found some letters written by Jadhav to his guru,Govind Purnadare. One of the letters was written by him when he was in London to participate in the Olympics,” elaborates Dudhane.

Jadhav’s son Ranjit was more than helpful towards Dudhane and shared copies of certificates won by his father between 1940 to 1960. The three-year-long research then took shape of the book Olympicveer Khashaba Jadhav,which was released in 2001.

Apart from Jadhav’s wrestling career,the film will also explore other aspects of his life. For instance,in 1942,when Mahatma Gandhi had initiated the Disobedience Movement,asking the British rulers to quit India,Satara and its people actively took part in the movement. “Alongwith his friends,Jadhav used to distribute anti-British Raj bulletins,” says Dudhane.

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