‘No one was willing to fund my research’

What are the risks in making a biopic of a person who isn’t as popular and how can you reduce the risk?
It’s a risk and has positives. When people have no one to compare Irrfan with it gives us the chance to create an image and a look for him that goes with his character. For me the idea was to show his heart and his brain and focus all our energies in that. The real Paan Singh was 6’5 but Irrfan is only 6’1 tall but how does that matter? If you’re making a film, you have to fictionalize a little bit. That said, the risk is if people don’t know about him, then we have to market him through the media to inform people about him and the test is how effectively we can do that.

Among all the movies made on dacoits, how does Paan Singh Tomar distinguish itself?
Paan Singh never did nothing for himself. He used to run for the 5000 metres race but when his coach asked him to move to steeplechase for a personal favour, he did that for him. He ran for the Bengal Engineers’ pride and he did everything he could for his family. He wasn’t an occupational daku but circumstances led him to the inglorious profession. He had some relatives who were ‘baaghis’ (kidnappers) but the area of Chambal is one where everyone ends up becoming one. If you don’t possess a gun and a hand pump, you’re not invited for weddings and don’t get enough respect from your village folk.

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