Biopic on lawyer who secured Kasab's conviction

Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

Panaji, May 12 (IANS) Director Svaddan Angrre is bringing to the silver screen the story of Ujjwal Nikam, the tenacious, poetry-quoting lawyer who secured the death penalty for Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab for the 26/11 Mumbai attack. He says the Marathi biopic will reveal some unknown facts about the legal eagle.

Nikam, from the boondocks of Jalgaon who rose to become one of the most renowned and high-profile public prosecutors in the country, has inspired "Aadesh", to be released in September.

The Pune-based Svaddan said that while Nikam will not act in the film, it is entirely inspired by his life and the four most sensational cases of his career - the 1993 Bombay blasts, the 2006 Kherlanji massacre, the cooperative societies scam and the 26/11 trial.

"Most people know only about the lawyer that Nikam sir is. But the film also explores other aspects of his personality," Svaddan told IANS.

Nikam's curriculum vitae would be the envy of the best of India's lawyers. In 1994, he handled the Mumbai blasts case, followed by cases relating to the sensational murders of music baron Gulshan Kumar and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pramod Mahajan. But the biggest one yet was without a doubt the Ajmal Kasab trial, which finally culminated in the Supreme Court upholding the death by hanging awarded by the trial court, where Nikam laid out the incriminating evidence with his robust, almost dramatic style.

The movie begins with the success of the Kasab trial.

"I have used a narrative style in the movie, which begins with the central character talking to a journalist about his life just after the Kasab trial," Svaddan said, adding that the movie would be released in September.

The director said that he met Nikam several times to dig out details of his life that haven't been documented by the media, which gravitates to the TV-savvy lawyer for confident bytes, when he holds the biggie legal government briefs.

"During my interactions with him, Nikam sir mentioned that a moviemaker had offered him the role of a lawyer. Nikam asked him, 'how can a lawyer act'? To which the producer said: 'Lawyers are often the best actors.'" Svaddan said, adding that the movie, however, did not take off.

"Aadesh", he said contains several anecdotes from Nikam's life, especially the parts where he was threatened by powerful politicians as well as businessmen while handing sensitive cases as a state prosecutor.

Svaddan, however, said that Marathi cinema was going through a crisis of sorts and that he had turned producer after several production houses turned down the biopic.

"I believe in the story. The story of a man who has stood by India against the enemies of the state. As a film it will work," Svaddan asserted.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)

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