Akshay Kumar to topline Marathi film as Chhatrapati Shivaji

Akshay Kumar makes his Marathi debut as an actor portraying Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Mahesh V. Manjrekar’s Vedat Marathe Veer Daudale Saat, Photo: Rajiv Vijayakar

“I first thought of the subject seven years ago,” admitted director Mahesh V. Manjrekar at the launch of his new (and biggest-ever Marathi) film, Vedat Marathe Veer Daudale Saat. “I had even announced this project. But then the research took all this while, and I had to find a producer who could back me.”

The wait has clearly been worthwhile. As of now, Akshay Kumar, no less, will portray Chhatrapati Shivaji in this mammoth extravaganza that is scheduled for a Diwali 2023 release—in Marathi, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. The launch event was also attended by Hon’ble Maharashtra Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde and MNS Chief, Raj Thakeray.

After watching the stage launch, the CM said, “This movie will be a super-hit. My good wishes are with them. Balasaheb Thackeray used to stand in support of Marathi cinema and artistes, and his son, Raj, is also supporting them.”

Akshay Kumar made a whopper of a surprise entry after Raj Thackeray quipped on stage to Mahesh, “But who plays emperor Shivaji, to whom these seven heroes are devoted?” stated, “I was told by Raj to do the role. It is a very big thing for me, a huge task and responsibility and jitna mera dam hai laga doonga (I will give everything to this role). It is a dream come true.” The actor has, until now, produced 72 Miles Ek Pravas and Anntar, two Marathi films, but this is the first time he will act in one. “Also, I will be working for the first time with Mahesh Manjrekar, and it is going to be an experience.”

The title (which means “Seven Maratha brave-hearts charged with a crazed passion”) is taken from a poem that famed Marathi poet Kusumagraj wrote in the 1970s and Lata Mangeshkar immortalized in a song composed by her brother, Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar.

The film is based on the story of courage and sacrifice that these seven Maratha soldiers of Emperor Shivaji demonstrated as they sought to save their lord and land from the treacherous Bahalol Khan. The seven warriors—Pratap Rao Gujar, Jivaji Patil, Tulja Jamkar, Malhari Lokhande, Suryaji Dandkar, Chandraji Kothar and Duttaji Paage—fought the barbaric invader and his massive army, who were sent by Adil Shah to destroy Shivaji and his dream of Swarajya. The actors playing them were introduced in a spectacular dance to a rousing song.

These 7 mavlas (from the mavalcommunity) did everything it took to fight bravely and relentlessly to serve the vision of their King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and vanquished an army of thousands.

Produced by Vaseem Qureshi, the film is not just a story, not just a war cry, but is the success story of the Hindavi Swarajya and of a glorious and selfless sacrifice. Mahesh let on that the budget he had sought for this film was unthinkably high for a Marathi movie (and its planned pan-India versions), but Vaseem told him that what he had envisaged was far less, and that he would need more! “I needed a producer like that!” said the director.

Mahesh added, “Vedat Marathe Veer Daudle Saat is my dream project, It is by far the biggest and grandest Marathi film to be made and with its release India-wide and overseas, I want people to know the story of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the most powerful Hindu king. I always wondered how Hollywood came up with films like 300 and The Magnificent Seven and we could not recount a true story like this! I am very fortunate to have Akshay Kumar on board to play the character of Shivaji Maharaj, I believe he’s perfect for the role and can take my film to the entire nation and beyond.”

The director also asked why Marathi cinema could not become pan-Indian and global when Southern films like Kannada movies could do so. He felt that the time had come for this now.

Vaseem Qureshi added, “We at Qureshi Productions have the vision to present wonderful and heartwarming stories that connect with audiences and I am extremely honored to partner with Mahesh Manjrekar-ji. This movie will be a landmark for the Marathi film industry, and moreover with Akshay Kumar as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Mahesh-ji’s vision, I am sure this film will be loved by audiences across the country and the globe.”

The film also has an ensemble cast consisting of Jay Dudhane, Utkarsha Shinde, Vishal Nikam, Virat Madke, Hardik Joshi, Satya Manjrekar, Akshay, Nawab Khan and Praveen Tarde. Hitesh Modak scores music.

Salman Khan made a surprise entry but was too late for the main event. The actor has always been close to Mahesh and is also close to Akshay Kumar.



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