Salman Khan

Atul Agnihotri, Salman Khan and Ali Abbas Zafar have teamed up for “Bharat,” which is an official adaptation of the 2014 South Korean film, “Ode to My Father.” (photo provided)

MUMBAI—Continuing the tradition of releasing his films on the festive occasion of Eid, Salman Khan has blocked the auspicious date for his 2019 release titled “Bharat.”

The film is an official adaptation of the 2014 South Korean film, “Ode to My Father,” which depicted modern Korean history from the 1950s to the present day through the life of an ordinary man. The film was identified as potentially good content for the Indian masses after its screening at the Berlin Film Festival was watched by “Bodyguard” producer and also an actor and director Atul Agnihotri, Khan’s brother-in-law who will now produce the film. “Bharat” will be directed by Khan’s current favorite Ali Abbas Zafar, who directed both “Sultan” and the just-wrapped-up “Tiger Zinda Hai.”

In Hindi, it will trace the journey of a man that starts in 1947 and ends in 2002. Agnihotri said, “It’s the journey of a country and also of a person, and both go by the name of Bharat.” Khan will thus take on the mantle of Bharat, a term, and character immortalized by Manoj Kumar from the 1960s until the 1980s. Agnihotri clarifies that the original film is just the starting point for “Bharat,” but since it was an inspiration, they wanted in all fairness to officially own it and thus acquired its remake rights.

Buzz is that Amitabh Bachchan is being approached for the role of Khan’s father in the film, while a younger hero will play his son. Another buzz is that while the original dealt with the split of Korea into North Korea and South Korea, this film has the readymade Partition of India and Pakistan to exploit for its cinematic needs.

On Khan being the right choice as protagonist, Agnihotri insisted that it was a decision taken from the heart, given his long association with his brother-in-law as an actor, producer, and director – they first co-starred in “Veergati” 22 years ago, also did “Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa” in 2004 and “Hello” that Agnihotri directed in 2008.

“It’s a character that I thought would resonate with him. It’s a huge responsibility making a film with Salman as there are big expectations that come with the job,” he added. “I’m very conscious about Salman’s fan base and what they want. And once again, I’m convinced that being a family film, it’s worthy of coming during the festive time. And anyway, an Eid release is always every producer’s preferred choice,” he said.

Since the film spans a long period, it will require elaborate sets as well. “We will also be shooting in Abu Dhabi and Spain, besides Punjab and Delhi. Prep in every department will be elaborate and happening even as we speak. Casting will be our main agenda over the next three months, and since it’s a character-driven story, we will take actors who fit the part. It won’t be about getting names together, but we will be honest in its depiction,” the producer noted.

The film will go on floors in April 2018.

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