‘PM Narendra Modi,’ ‘Mary Kom’ Producer Sandeep Singh Sets Indian Ruler Shivaji Biopic (EXCLUSIVE)

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‘PM Narendra Modi,’ ‘Mary Kom’ Producer Sandeep Singh Sets Indian Ruler Shivaji Biopic (EXCLUSIVE)

India’s Sandeep Singh will direct “The Pride of Bharat – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,” a biopic of revered 17th century Indian ruler Shivaji Bhonsle.

Singh has produced several acclaimed films including Toronto title, boxing biopic “Mary Kom” (2014), Asia Pacific Screen Awards-winning gay rights drama “Aligarh” (2015) and slum soccer film “Jhund” (2022). He made his directorial debut with ZEE5 streaming original, the transgender-themed “Safed” (2023). The Shivaji biopic will be his first theatrical feature film as director.

Shivaji (1630-1680), who hailed from the Hindu religion, founded the Maratha empire when most of India was under the rule of Muslim monarchs, winning his territories using a mixture of military moves and strategic nous. At a time when the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb was persecuting Hindus, the community rallied by Shivaji, who was crowned as Chhatrapati (monarch). During India’s independence movement, Shivaji was held in high esteem as a Hindu nationalist hero, a position he enjoys to this day.

In the current Indian dispensation, Shivaji is a totemic figure for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena (literally ‘army of Shivaji’), which is one of the dominant political forces in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, where the Chhatrapati was from.

Singh also produced “PM Narendra Modi” (2019), a biopic of the current Indian Prime Minister who is from the BJP, and “Main Atal Hoon,” a biopic of the first BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “The Pride of Bharat – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj” was launched by India’s Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India, Nitin Gadkari, one of the pillars of the BJP.

The popularity of Shivaji can be measured by the fact that the stories of him and his associates have been told in India more than 60 times, beginning with “Sinhagad” (1923). The current production, an Immerso Studio, K Kamal and Legend Studios presentation, will have a lavish budget and will be released in the Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Marathi languages.

A top team as been assembled for the film, including writing team Siddharth-Garima (“Toilet: A Love Story”), DoP Aseem Bajaj (“Sacred Games”), choreographer Ganesh Hegde (“Phone Bhoot”), costume designer Sheetal Sharma (“Gangubai Kathiawadi”), production designer Sandeep Sharad Ravade (“Ghoomer”), with casting by Kavish Sinha (“Rocket Boys”). The cast has not been revealed yet.

Formerly a journalist, Singh worked with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bhansali Productions on films such as “Rowdy Rathore” (2012), “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela” (2013) and “Bajirao Mastani” (2015), besides “Mary Kom.”

“As my guru is Sanjay Leela Bhansali whose films have always been grandiose, I used to be in a confused state of mind as to how do I make my Bollywood debut as a director. I kept looking for an intriguing subject after ‘Bajirao Mastani,’ but I wasn’t getting the right one for my directorial debut and thus continued producing films. Till finally, I found the fascinating story of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. I started researching on Shivaji Maharaj’s life and came across some huge surprises and decided that this was it,” Singh told Variety. “This subject is that I wanted to make my debut as a director with in Bollywood. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s had a personality that was larger than life. His real life story goes beyond fictional imagination. People, especially the youth, know Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as the brave Maratha warrior. But don’t know the intricacies of his intelligent and sharp mind and the qualities that made him so great. He was the actual warrior of Bharat [India]. I strongly felt that his story must be told and am boldly going ahead with it.”

“It’s taken me 23 years of hard struggle to build and create a position to debut as a director for my first mega budget film ‘The Pride of Bharat – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.’ There could be nothing better than this. I have been working on the script since 2019, five years of labor and love. I hope our audience will appreciate our film and the efforts invested in it,” Singh added.

“The Pride of Bharat – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj” is due to release in January 2026, during the Republic Day holiday frame.

Sandeep Singh, Nitin Gadkari Immerso Studio/K. Kamal/Legend Studios

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