For the biopic, Budhia Singh – Born To Run, based on world’s youngest marathon runner, Budhia Awoog Singh, director Soumendra Padhi had auditioned more than 1200 kids for the title role from different states including Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Pune and Mumbai, especially from Dharavi before he finalised Mayur for the role.
Budhia Singh – Born To Run is based on the relationship between Budhia and his judo coach Biranchi Das, played by Manoj Bajpayee. Das rescued the little boy from one of Bhubaneswar’s notorious slums, discovered his talent and helped him achieve incredible heights. Unfortunately, Das was shot dead in Bhubaneshwar in April 2008.
While describing the shooting experience at real locations in Bhubaneshwar, Soumendra informs, “We shot in the slums there. Over 25, 000 people came to see the boy who is playing Budhia. People hugged him and got nostalgic while they also showed the unit Budhia’s house and recalled stories about how he had really thin legs but never got tired of running.”
Soumendra, along with the research team, interacted with Budhia’s neighbours, relatives, doctors and the late Biranchi Das’s wife to keep the facts real. “The film only portrays Budhia from the age of four to six but there is so much disparity between what was written and the actual story. Even the slum people have different versions so it was complicated,” the filmmaker adds.
The film’s unit also filmed with 400 CRPF officers in Pune. “Officer BS Gill was a crucial part of grooming Budhia and got him to train with the CRPF. We recreated those moments with real officers. Mayur ran just like Buddhia, doing 10-12 rounds of a big ground, leaving the officers behind,” Soumendra informs.
Mayur’s life bears striking resemblance to Budhia’s. Mayur also stays in a chawl in Pune and has a similar upbringing. One year prior to the shooting, Mayur lost his father like Budhia. Like Budhia, Mayur also talks very less and is very close to his mother. Soumendra made Mayur stay in the same chawl and slum area in Orissa where Budhia stays to get into the skin of his character.
“We needed Mayur to look the same throughout the film so we asked him to not eat chocolates. We thought he would cheat but he was keener to look like Budhia from the TV images. He wanted to be him more than anything else,” Padhi recollects, “Both of them don’t talk much. They have a piercing gaze and a miraculous effect on people. You will be struck by the adulation they command if you meet them.”
Produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Code Red Film Productions and directed by Soumendra Padhi, the film will run in cinemas on August 5, 2016.