Hrithik Roshan is set to play educationalist and mathematician Anand Kumar in upcoming film Super 30. As the name suggests, the Vikas Bahl directorial is based on Anand’s popular education program by the same name, which he runs in his hometown Patna in Bihar.
Under Super 30, Anand trains underprivileged students for competitive exams like IIT-JEE. In the film, Hrithik plays Anand, tracing his journey from being a small time tutor to opening his own coaching centre.
While the trailer and songs of Super 30 have left the audience wanting to know more about Anand Kumar’s story, the mathematician himself got candid about the biographical drama and why he thinks Hrithik Roshan was the apt choice to play him on the big screen.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. How does it feel to see a film made on your story?
It is a great feeling. Due to some movies made on Bihar, the state got a negative image. But Super 30 showcases the hard work and dedication of people from the underprivileged families of Bihar. That will bring a lot of happiness to us.
Q. When you got to know that Hrithik Roshan will be playing you, what was your first thought? Did you believe in him?
It was amazing. My family also appreciated it. But some of my friends asked me, ‘Why did you agree on Hrithik Roshan to portray you on screen? Because he does not look like you, he looks like a foreigner. He has an urban look.’ Then I told them that the first time I met Hrithik, I was very happy because he had the most dedication and thrust to do this film. He constantly told me that ‘Anand ji, give me a year to prepare for this role.’ He had to tone down his physique and muscles. He also put in a lot of effort to talk and look like me. So, he asked for a year to prepare. When I saw this hunger in him, I knew that only Hrithik can do justice to this role.
Q. What advice did you give to Hrithik to play your part?
I didn’t need to give him any advice. He is a big and accomplished actor. To begin with, he made a 150 hour video of me. My daily routine, my eating habits, my walking style, my way of speaking, my teaching style and he studied that video thoroughly. After that, he had five to seven meetings with me in Mumbai, and each of those meetings lasted for hours. One meeting lasted for six hours. At the end of it, he came down to the road to drop me. He was barefoot. His staff came running and told him that you are not wearing your chappals. That’s how engrossed he was in those meetings.
Vikas Bahl also explored the villages in Bihar a lot. He also went to the village of those children who were studying in our Super 30 centre.
Q. Are the children shown in the film also inspired from your real students?
The amazing thing is that all the 30 kids shown in the film are from Bihar. In fact, 5-6 kids from that group were my students. The filmmakers wanted some children who have been my students so that they bring some knowledge of mathematics and their experience from the classroom on the movie set. The rest of the children are theater actors. You will be amazed to know that all these 30 children also come from underprivileged families.
Q. What trait of yours did Hrithik imbibe in the movie?
When the trailer of the movie came out, my two-year-old daughter watched it and started shouting ‘Papa, Papa’. Hrithik has done an incredible job. In one scene when a boy tells him that he wants to be a computer engineer and he says ‘you will become one’, I felt like I was looking at myself in the mirror.
Q. And how convinced were your other family members?
My brother Pramod Kumar, who has supported me through some really tough times, had tears in his eyes. He told me through this movie people in the country and the entire world will get to know about our struggles.
Q. Biopics always take some kind of creative liberty. How much creative freedom did you give the makers?
The script of this movie was re-written and improved 13 times. I wanted complete honesty in the story. Of course, creative liberties can be taken to make it entertaining for the public. But the story should be authentic and to achieve that Vikas Bahl also spent one year in the villages near Patna.
Q. A section of the audience thought Pankaj Tripathi or Manoj Bajpayee would have played you better because of the looks and them hailing from Bihar. What do you think?
So there are many Bihari actors in this movie and Pankaj Tripathi is also part of this movie. However, we wanted a great actor and a star to play the role so that the story can reach more people. Hrithik Roshan had both these qualities.
Q. After the film went into production, certain controversies also surrounded you. Do you believe it was because a film on you was being made?
You as journalists understand things and dive deep into an issue. When someone or something starts getting bigger, then some people, who are defeated in life and can’t do anything, start defaming others. There are many people who are like this.
I read this news some days back that last year four children filed a PIL against me in the Guwahati High Court. But these four children have never studied under me. They never appeared in the entrance exam also. I don’t know them and they have never come to Bihar. But under the influence of some coaching institute and to get publicity, someone is asking the children to do such things and we responded to the court on the PIL and the matter was closed. And now they are saying they will take the matter to court.
My brother was run down by a truck while the movie was in production. One of my friends was jailed for writing something on Facebook. So these things keep happening. My father taught me not to get scared when things go wrong. He said the more things get bad, the bigger hero you become.
Q. But was there any point where you thought the film might not be completed?
I had complete confidence and trust on the hard work and dedication of Hrithik Roshan and Vikas Bahl. My father used to say that hard work never gets wasted. I knew the movie would be made and it would be released. It will be a great movie.
Q. Do you think Hrithik Roshan will win an award for this movie?
Absolutely. And I think people will remember this movie for a long time.
Q. Any message for IIT aspirants?
I want to tell them that please understand the how and why of things and prepare well. Don’t try to mug up things. Try and understand them and connect them with real examples. Be patient and hardworking. The future is yours.
Super 30 also stars Pankaj Tripathi, Mrunal Thakur and Virendra Saxena and Nandish Singh. It releases on July 12.