Telugu film star Sesh Adivi is busy shooting 26/11 hero Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s biopic, Major, in which he plays the titular role. The actor has also penned the script for what he calls his dream project. “I don’t fully know,” he says after a pause when we ask him why he decided to write this film. “When I saw his (Unnikrishnan’s) picture on television while I was in the US, there was something about his expression that gripped me. He looked like my older brother….I was like, ‘He looks like Pawan anna’. I’m sure there are people who don’t know him or his name, but they all remember that passport size picture,” he says. About how the film, which will be in Telugu and Hindi, came about, he shares, “I was his fan and was collecting all the clips about him. I felt that people know him as somebody who died in the line of duty. They should also know how he lived.’’
Unnikrishnan, who grew up in Bengaluru, was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra for his bravery during Operation Black Tornado in 2008. The 31-year-old’s last words at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai to his men, ‘Don’t come up, I’ll handle them,’ are etched in our minds.
“I can’t reveal how much of the operation we are showing in the movie, but the story is not about that, it’s more about his life; his teenage years, service in Kargil, his first love. This is essentially a Kashmir to Kanyakumari movie. He was born in Kerala, brought up in Bengaluru, served in Kashmir, trained in Haryana, that’s why this is a pan-India film!” says Adivi, who not only visited Unnikrishnan’s workplaces but also met his colleagues from National Security Guard (NSG) and his unit, 7 Bihar.
The actor met Unnikrishnan’s parents even before the project was green lit. “It’s been incredible knowing them. When I met them the first time, I told them that whether this film is made or not, they have me for life. They’ve become second parents to me. If I’m at a stage where I find something emotionally challenging, I call and seek their advice,” he says.
So, what was it like donning the olive greens for the movie ? “We were shooting before the lockdown, and the eight months after that gave me a lot of time to introspect and enabled me to connect with the character even more, because I kept thinking about him. So, when I wore the uniform when we resumed shooting, it sent a chill down my spine, it felt real for a moment,” says the actor.