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Playing Chandrashekhar is huge responsibility: Imran Zahid

New Delhi: Important things in life sometimes happen by chance feels Imran Zahid, who was happy running a coaching institute when Mahesh Bhatt offered him to play the role of slain student activist Chandrashekhar Prasad.

Zahid, 30, is currently researching on the life of Prasad, who left National Defence Academy, to join the student politics in Delhi`s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). He was shot dead while addressing a gathering in his hometown, Siwan in 1997.

"I never aspired to become an actor but this role is a huge responsibility. A lot of people are attached to the memory of Prasad. I will give my 500 per cent to this role,"
Zahid told reporters.

The debutante, who has known Bhatt for three-years, says the filmmaker wanted him to try acting in the past but he always declined.

The story of Chandu and his murder first cropped up during a discussion between Zahid and Bhatt and that got the filmmaker interested.

"We were discussing about things in general and I started talking about Chandu. Bhattji was very much interested and asked me several questions on his life. He did his own research and after a month called me back, saying, `I am going to make a film on Chandrashekhar and you are going to play the lead role. Get ready for that`," Zahid recalls.

Initially, Zahid was reluctant to play the role of the activist but Bhatt, who is the creative producer of the project, eventually convinced him.

"In our very first meeting, Bhattji had told me that I should try acting but I was happy in Delhi. I never wanted to go to Mumbai and chase filmmakers for a role. It is not like I am afraid to struggle but somehow Mumbai never appealed me," he says.

Doing this role has come to mean a lot for Zahid, who has been meeting Chandrashekhar`s old friends and acquaintances in JNU to gather facts about his life.

"I can`t play Chandu by changing my looks. I need to know his struggle, his ideology and his dreams to portray the character with complete honesty. This is why I have been
meeting people in JNU to know what kind of person Chandu da was," says Zahid, whose acting experience is limited to theatre and street plays.

"Chandu was a charismatic personality. He was a real hero. Today when you see in the newspapers it is all about Bollywood stars and cricketers. Here, we are talking about a person who gave away his life. He was fighting for the social justice," says Zahid, who is now planning to visit Siwan with Bhatt.

Chandrashekhar, who was born in a poor family in Siwan, is a very important name in the history of JNU student politics. A member of CPI-ML(Liberation), he played a crucial role in the building of student organisation AISA.

He was elected to the JNU Students Union thrice, first as vice-president in 1993-94, then as president for successive terms in 1994-95 and 1995-96.

At the end of his stint in JNU, Chandrashekar returned to Siwan as a full-time party activist. On March 31, 1997 Chandrashekhar was shot dead while addressing street corner meetings in support of a strike called by the party.

`Chandu`, directed by documentary filmmaker Ajay Kanchan, is slated to go on floors in October.

PTI

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