Based on the real life saga of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, filming Aamir Khan’s latest movie ‘Dangal’ is set to begin in Kila Raipur, Narangwal, Gujjarwal and Leelan villages of Ludhiana in Punjab.
On Tuesday, The Indian Express team visited the proposed sets of ‘Dangal’ where an art and designing team is working to complete work before September 15, when Aamir is expected to arrive.
Many villagers said they were “employed” by the team from Mumbai.
“Old homes in the village are being renovated and even shopkeepers in streets where shooting will take place are being paid by the team. They have given contract of civil works and carpenter works to our villagers,” said Jaswinder Singh Babbu, sarpanch of Gujjarwal village.
The team will also hire local ‘security guards’ once Aamir begins the shoot, said sources. “They held a meeting with panchayat in June when work started and another meeting will be held before Aamir arrives. We are fully cooperating with the filmmakers,” Babbu said.
An old home that had been locked for years in the streets of Gujjarwal village will be depicted Mahavir Phogat’s home.
Hoardings and banners in Punjabi have been revamped in Hindi and Haryanvi.
The production team has also proposed to hire local residents in the film but only after screen tests. “They need local faces who can match the physique and looks of Haryana wrestlers. Boys have already started preparing and some are even going bald ,” said the sarpanch.
Kesar Singh, sarpanch of Kila Raipur village, said, “Our village is famous for its rural Olympics held annually and now we are proud that Punjab villages have been chosen over Haryana for the shooting.” A wrestling ring will be created in Kila Raipur.
Though the art and design team working on the sets remained tight-lipped, a source told Indian Express that Aamir Khan is expected to arrive in Ludhiana by September 15 and begin the shoot.
“His schedule is for almost two months here apart from other scenes which will be shot in Pune and Delhi,” he said.
The shoot of Dangal is proving to be a boon for the local villagers here, as the production team has ensured that the local talent will be employed to execute the works.
“All the civil works like restructuring and restoring of some old homes and giving streets that desi look of Haryana- all have been done by locals as we have given contract to them to ensure that they are not at any loss. Carpenters hired are local too,” added the source.
A deserted old home in village Gujjarwal will be shown as home of Aamir’s character Mahavir Phogat. A fireplace, some old boxes, an earthen pot, old chairs etc have completed the look of Phogat’s on screen home.
Besides this, an akhada will also be created in Kila Raipur.
However, the major attraction remains the old markets of Kila Raipur and Gujjarwal where hoardings of all shops have been re-painted. Also, the public welfare advertisements of Haryana government have been painted here.
“The only reason to create an artificial Haryana in Punjab was that we found it much convenient to shoot here. Also, the city Ludhiana is just 25-30 kms from the villages and it would be easy to travel from city to villages,” said the source.
A cobbler Harchet Singh from Gujjarwal whose shop ‘Punjabi Jutti’ has now become ‘Special Juttis’, said, “First we did not believe that Aamir would be coming here but now it is confirmed. He is going to enjoy Punjabi hospitality.”
“We have already told our relatives that Aamir is coming. Of course, it will not be possible for him to meet all villagers but a glimpse would be enough,” says Navdeep Singh, a grocery store owner.
Sources said that few scenes are scheduled to be shot at Government Senior Secondary School, Gujjarwal running since 1857.
Aamir Khan will be staying in Ludhiana city at a high end hotel. The art and design team landed in Ludhiana in June and work is on since then.
“There were plans to shoot some scenes in Ludhiana city but they have been shifted to Pune. In Punjab, shooting will be done only in villages of Ludhiana,” said the source.