Prateik Babbar on Thursday said he jumped at the opportunity to star in India Lockdown after director Madhur Bhandarkar convinced him that the film would be a fitting tribute to his late mother, actress Smita Patil.
Prateik, who plays a migrant worker in India Lockdown, said he watched some of his mother's movies such as Chakra and Aakrosh to get into the skin of his character.
“He (Bhandarkar) told me my mother would play such characters and if I do this, this will be a tribute to her. 'You can pay homage to Smita Patil', he said. I was sold and told, 'I am in, tell me what to do'. I immediately got interested in this film and role,” the actor said at the trailer launch of the movie in Mumbai.
Inspired by true events, India Lockdown will depict four parallel stories and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people of India.
Best known for Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na and Dhobi Ghat, Prateik said his mother's films helped him portray the emotions and struggles of people living on the margins in a realistic way.
“I saw many films of my mother including Aakrosh and Chakra. I also saw Shabana Azmi's Ankur, Do Bigha Zameen and others. It was necessary to watch these films and understand the struggles of the characters,” he added.
Prateik also said he met a few migrant workers to prepare for the role.
“I am a keen observer. I observed how they would walk, talk to their children, family, how they live their mundane life, and tried to understand their hardships,” he said.
The 35-year-old actor recalled initially Bhandarkar's team was unsure about casting him as a daily-wage earner, courtesy his image of an urban man.
“When I first met sir, I went wearing shorts with blue hair. He didn't say anything but he and his team seemed stunned looking at me. I wore the costume, changed my hair colour and did the look test," Prateik added.
According to Bhandarkar, India Lockdown will turn out to be a "game changer" for Prateik.
“Everyone has done a fab job. This film will be a game changer for Prateik and whoever will see the film will think of Smita ji,” the director said.
Also starring Aahana Kumra, Shweta Basu Prasad, and Sai Tamhankar, India Lockdown is set for a direct-to-digital release on ZEE5 on December 2.
The film is produced by Jayantilal Gada of PEN Studios, Bhandarkar Entertainment and Pranav Jain's PJ Motions Pictures.