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Reel tribute to Mountain Man

Gaya, Nov. 8: Chief minister Nitish Kumar had once offered him his chair at one of his janata durbars. Now celebrated Bollywood director Ketan Mehta is ready to salute the Mountain Man of Gaya in his own style.

Though some documentaries had earlier been made on the life of Dashrath Manjhi, Mehta will be the first Bollywood director to make a full-length film on the man who had carved out a 360-ft long road through the hills of Gehlaur in Gaya district.

Manjhi, who went on to become popular as Dashrath Baba and Mountain Man, had pledged to construct the road for his wife, Faguni Devi.

She had to cross a narrow space to carry lunch for Manjhi when he worked on the other side of the hills. During the walk, Faguni often suffered bruises all over her body. It was in 1960 when Manjhi embarked on his mission with a chisel and hammer.

It took him 22 years to construct the 30-ft wide road meandering through the hills. Once the road was ready, over one lakh residents in Mohra, Atri and Wazirganj blocks of the district used it as a corridor to their respective destinations.

“Manjhi died in Delhi on August 17, 2007, at the age of 78 The road he constructed for his wife turned out to be a precious gift for the residents of Atri, Mohra and Wazirganj blocks as it connects the Gra-nd Trunk Road via Bara-chatti block,” researcher Ashok Anj said.

Mehta, along with wife Deepa Shahi, was in Gaya to shoot the film, Manjhi The Mountain Man, in the picturesque landscape of Gehlaur valley. “Manjhi’s is one of the most inspiring love stories I have ever come across. The shooting of the film started on October 16 and it concluded on Wednesday,” Mehta told The Telegraph.

“Almost 80 per cent of the film has been shot in and around Gehlaur. We got the muhurat of the film done by Bhagirath Manjhi, the son of Dashrath, as a tribute to the Mountain Man. We have shot some portions of the film in New Delhi and Allahabad, as Manjhi had visited those places in his lifetime. Besides, some scenes will be shot in a Mumbai studio,” he added.

Manjhi The Mountain Man is a biographical film that reflects the triumph of human beings over nature. Produced by Deepa, it is a low-budget film with no song-and-dance sequence. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the role of Dashrath Manjhi, while Radhika Apte portrays the character of his wife. At least 25 artistes from the state have got an opportunity to act in the film. The script of the film has been written by Mehta and Mahindra Jhakhar.

The background music has been scored by Shahab Alam, who is from Bihar. The film will release some time around May or June next year.