Varun Dhawan, over the years, has shown a varied range of performances on the big screen. From drama to comedy, big-scale productions to relatable small-town stories, he has done it all. Now, he is taking up real-life role of Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal in his next film which will be helmed by Sriram Raghavan and produced by Dinesh Vijan.
Varun says, “ Playing a soldier has always been my dream. After I heard Arun Khetrapal’s story. I was honestly shocked that this could actually happen! I understood why Dinoo and Sriram were so passionate about it. And after I met Aruns brother Mukesh Khetarpal I was moved, I too have a brother and I can’t fathom what he must have gone through. This is a story which needs to be told and it’s a responsibility for us to tell it correctly.This is the most important film of my career and I’m so excited to start work with Sriram again. I hope all Indians will feel proud once they hear this story.”
For Vijan this biopic is more than just a film. Known for investing in cinema that usually tells unique tales this biopic is his first. Dinesh says, “Arun Khetarpal was one of Poona Horse’s most celebrated Lieutenants. When Mukesh Khetarpal (brother) narrated his story in Delhi, we were already enamoured by his bravery but what connected me more was Arun’s equation with his father, the bond that one shares with his father is usually left unsaid. I lost my father 5 years ago and I miss him everyday, with this film I hope to shine some light on the boy who became a man, a reflection of his father. It’s a huge responsibility to make this biopic, we are indebted to the family and to the Poona Horse regiment for allowing us the honor of telling Arun’s story and we hope to make them proud.”
Known for detailing, Sriram has already spent over six months in researching and developing the story. “The courage of 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal during the 1971 Battle of Basantar is well known. I was a kid during the ’71 war but remember pasting black paper on windows during blackouts. So when Dinoo (producer Dinesh Vijan) asked me to make a film around the subject, I found it daunting initially. Movies set in wartime have always moved me, forced me to reconsider. This is a solid story told over two generations of soldiers. We hope we can do justice to it” says Raghavan.
This film marks the reunion of Badlapur duo Varun Dhawan and Sriram Raghavan. The twenty-one year old Arun Khetarpal, who showed extreme bravery in the face of fierce and unrelenting attacks by the Pakistani military, Khetarpal, was honored with India’s most-prestigious and highest-standard military medal for courage and gallantry- the Param Vir Chakra, posthumously.