Bollywood Bets Its Covid19 Return With Gaalib, On Afzal Guru’s Son

by Khalid Bashir Gura

SRINAGAR: On October 28, the much-awaited trailer of the movie based on Ghalib, the son of the Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru, was released on YouTube.


In this still, from Ghaalib masala film, the mother Depika is biding her son adieu as he leaves for the school. Photo: Special arrangement.

The release of the film was postponed due to the pandemic which forced closure on the cinema halls. The film is scheduled to hit the theatre two days prior December 13, 2001, anniversary of the attack.

The film Gaalib is based on the ups and downs of Guru’s son Gaalib’s life and the situation of Kashmir.

Donning keffiyeh (chequered black and white scarf) a man with streaks of salt and pepper beard is seen speaking to a female apparently his wife in a court: “Mujhe poora yaqeen hai ki sarkaar mujhe kabhi bhi phaansi de sakte hai,” (I’m sure that the government will hang me anytime) as the trailer of the Bollywood movie Gaalib opens with this dialogue of Kashmir born Bollywood actor Mir Sarwar who is playing the role of Afzal Guru.

Further in the trailer, he is seen advising his son (Ghalib) played by Nikkhil Pitaley: Jo Raasta Maine Chuna Hai, Tum Kabhi Mat Chun Na, (Don’t choose the path that I chose).

The shooting was completed in almost eighteen months according to the writer of the movie Dhiraj Mishra who scripted the movie along with his wife Yashomati Devi. Further adding the writer said that the movie has been shot in picturesque locations in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bhaderwah, also known as Chota Kashmir and in Mumbai, and Allahabad.

The film explores the bond between Afzal Guru’s son and his mother in the Bollywood film named Ghaalib slatted to release in December

The film also stars Dipika Chikhalia whose character name is Shabana and is playing the role of Ghalib’s mother. Earlier she had played the role of Sita in the famous TV series Ramayana.

As Nikkhil Pitaley is playing the role of Ghalib in the movie, that mainly revolves around the mother-son relationship. “I have focused on the situations that Kashmiri kids find themselves in and how terrorism impacts their education and lives,” Mishra the writer of the movie said.  “The movie is about gun versus pen.”

A few years ago, when Ghalib (the real one) had shined in his academics, it had started a debate in the media about his struggle and success. Some from the mainland India jettisoning their rational capabilities and allowing prejudice to creep in raised questions on the Ghalib’s result as to how can a son of a man, who was hanged in Tihar, shine academically.

But the writer who was in Delhi at that time busy with some research project was fascinated by Ghalib’s story. “I read about his academic success in one of the newspapers in Delhi. I learned about his struggle,” said the movie writer. The writer’s creativity instantly sparked off and that is when he decided to script the movie with his wife.

When asked that if he ever met the real Ghalib and his family, Mishra said: “I contacted him on social media platform Instagram but he seemed to be introvert and reluctant to talk. I chose to respect his privacy.”

Scrip writer Dhiraj Mishra who said he respected Ghalib’s right to privacy while trying to listen to his story on WhatsApp. Photo: Special arrangement

The movie has been produced by Ghanshyam Patel, co-produced by Nimisha Amin and directed by Manoj Giri, the movie has been written by Dhiraj Mishra and Yashomati Devi.

Earlier the director of the movie Manoj Giri had told media that, “I want to change the perception of the people regarding Jammu and Kashmir. The film is based on a young Kashmiri teenage student and his mother with a troubled past.”

Earlier according to the reports Bollywood returned to Bhaderwah after 33 years as the shooting of film Ghalib had begun in the town.

A few years back while shooting in Bhaderwah, Dipika had told media persons that she was playing the character of a militant’s wife. “Basically we fear a militant… we hate his family. They too are human beings. His wife and his child did not do any wrong,” she had told media during the shooting of the film.  “I was a little worried before visiting this place but after reaching here, all my inhibitions fizzled in the breathtaking locales of this unexplored heaven. Now I’m seriously considering buying a place for myself here.”

Actor Nikkhil Pitaley, 26, who is playing the role of Ghalib said that even though he could never meet the real Ghalib but he was fascinated by his story and struggle. Praising the hospitality of Kashmiri people, the actor of the movie recalled the days he spent in the valley. “Kashmiri people are lovely. During shooting most of the times they used to bring us food from home. I have never met such kind people,” he said. Speaking about the awe that he was in by working with renowned artist Deepika Chikhalia, Pitaley said that he had to undergo dramatic physical changes to do the role of young Ghalib and for his act had to lose many kilos as initially the Deepika who was to play the mother’s role had refused to act with him.

A month later when the young actor went to her home almost after losing eight kilograms she could not recognize him according to the actor.

“Ghalib was my first movie and I chose to debut with it because the story was powerful,” Pitaley said.

Pertinent to mention that Afzal Guru was hanged and buried in Tihar Jail on February 9, 2013, after his mercy petition was rejected by then President Pranab Mukherjee. The film, however, is not based on the attack or the trail but how Guru’s son managed to survive after the hanging of his father. The storyline is completely fictional.


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