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Marathi flick ‘Dharmaveer’ puts spotlight on Eknath Shinde’s rising say in Shiv Sena politics

The biographical movie on Shiv Sena leader and Eknath Shinde’s mentor Anand Dighe attempts to generate empathy for all Shivsainiks (especially Shinde), thus setting a stage for the actual events which unfolded.

Anand Dighe, Eknath Shinde, Shivsena, Balasaheb ThackerayAs the questions around Eknath Shinde’s past are increasing, so are the discussions about his mentor Dighe, who is the ‘Dharmaveer’ in the Marathi movie.(Dharmaveer/ IMDb)

By Shalmali Bhagwat

After days of political turmoil, dust has finally settled in Maharashtra. Rebel leader Eknath Shinde has sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra on 30 June 2022, dethroning Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray. The stage for political drama kept shifting from Surat to Guwahati to Goa and finally Mumbai. Shinde, a ‘Shivsainik’ from Thane, who rose up the ranks under the guidance of his guru ‘Anand Dighe’ has finally captured the seat of power with BJP support and the 50 rebel MLAs who jumped ship with him.

But what has caught everyone by surprise is the starring role of Eknath Shinde in a Marathi movie ‘Dharmaveer: Mukkam Post Thane’ released in May that is more of a biopic on the late Shiv Sena leader Anand Dighe who had devoted his life for the welfare of the people of Thane. After two months of release, the film is in the limelight in the wake of the rising political graph of Shiv Sena’s influential leader Eknath Shinde, who was the trusted lieutenant of Dighe.

As the questions around Eknath Shinde’s past are increasing, so are the discussions about his mentor Dighe, who is the ‘Dharmaveer’ in the Marathi movie.

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A bearded messiah, brother to thousands of women in Thane, hearing pleas of the neglected, settling family disputes, signing job recommendations for people, punishing the corrupted, bashing goons and protector of the ‘Marathi manus’ of Thane, Anand Dighe shines as the eccentric, determined-yet-loving leader for the people.

Prasad Oak plays the titular role in ‘Dharmaveer’, produced by Mangesh Desai and directed by Praveen Tarde. The film portrays Anand Dighe’s life, the Sena’s strongman in Thane and one of Balasaheb’s closest aides.

In what may appear to be an ode to the spirit of this true ‘Shivsainik’, the film goes deep tracing Dighe’s journey from a righteous Shivsainik in Thane (when Shiv Sena had no seats even in Thane Municipal Corporation) to running a parallel court in Tembhe as the ‘jyancha Sarkar tyanchach mhashi rakhnar police’ (‘police were controlled by those in power’).


Anand Dighe is the central focus of the movie, but so are his followers, especially Shinde.

Associating Shinde with all the ideals that his mentor, Dighe, stands for, the movie introduces viewers to the legacy of ‘Shivsainiks’ and their struggles, and at the same time not indulging in self-glorification. It attempts to generate empathy and respect for all the soldiers of the Shiv Sena movement (especially Shinde), thus setting a stage for the actual events which unfolded.

One cannot miss the unmistakable orange Shivsena colour plastered across almost every frame in the movie and the roar of the tiger periodically. Dialogues such as ‘Jyachya angala marathi maaticha vaas, to shivsainik (The one who carries the essence of our Marathi soil, is a true Shivsainik) drive home the point that Dighe and Shiv Sena stand for the Marathi middle-class. The film zooms into the interior regions of Palghar as Dighe assists the adivasis while planting a Sena flag before every house, and opens party regional offices (shakhas) in prominent Brahmin societies after assisting the residents. It details Dighe’s efforts to promote the party and help ‘all’ to fight for their rights and get justice.


The film celebrates the teacher-pupil relationship between party founder Balasaheb Thackeray and Dighe, often accompanied by the images of Krishna and Arjuna. In an apparent, yet subtle way to establish that Dighe and his aide Shinde is supposed to be the closest to Balasaheb and Shiv Sena, the images of Krishna (Balasaheb) instructing Arjuna (Dighe) who executes his commands are cleverly weaved in the storyline.

Shinde is the true ‘Shivsainik’ who could take up important positions only due to the ‘teachings imparted by his guru’. Eknath Shinde is introduced while beating up the dance-bar owners for Dighe in Mumbai and is present in almost every frame of the movie – from working in the Shiv Sena office to washing Dighe’s feet on Guru Purnima. However, the movie takes a slight detour to show the tragedy in Shinde’s life as he loses two kids in an accident, and how Dighe helps him recover from the loss. It highlights Dighe’s strong support for Shinde in the event of his personal tragedies.

Interestingly, apart from Balasaheb Thackeray, no other member of the family is featured prominently, barring a scene towards the end when Dighe is seen recuperating in a hospital after an accident and Raj Thackeray coming to visit him. Raj wishes Dighe a speedy recovery as he is the “past, present and future” of Hindutva doctrine, which the party upholds, while Uddhav Thackeray marks an entry at the fag end of the film when Dighe has already passed away.

Dighe can be seen fighting for Hindus and instructing them to unite if they want to survive. Very cleverly in one of the final scenes, the filmmaker has painted a ‘secular’ colour on Dighe, who would be helping ‘good’ Muslims, elaborating that he has no hatred against the religion but the jihadists.

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First published on: 02-07-2022 at 07:20:36 pm
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