Suhaib Ilyasi, who made the television serial India's Most Wanted, is producing, directing and acting in a reality-based film, Wanted No 1. It is based on the life of hitman Shri Prakash Shukla, who was alleged to have accepted a supari of Rs 6 crores (Rs 60 million) to eliminate then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh.
Ilyasi, who had featured Shukla in his serial, will essay the title role. The film also stars Ahsima Bhalla, Govind Namdeo and Sayaji Shinde.
At the film's mahurat held at the Hotel Sea Princess in Juhu, northwest Mumbai, Ilyasi says, "Shukla was not a criminal by birth. Ironically, the politicians responsible for making him a criminal are still sitting in the assemblies. Everyday, such Shuklas are made and eliminated for the convenience of the system. I want people to wake up and notice those who are actually responsible for creating people like Shukla."
India's Most Wanted had helped resolve approximately 66 pending cases, some of which ended in encounters. Shukla, who was captured with the help of information resulting from the show, was later killed in an encounter.
Ilyasi had to leave the show after he was accused of causing the death of his wife Anju. He was arrested by the New Delhi police and is now on bail. Anju, who had allegedly been harrassed by Ilyasi for dowry, allegedly committed suicide by stabbing herself to death on January 10, 2000.
When asked about the case, he replied, "In four to six months, everyone will know I have been framed. India's Most Wanted had created a stir and some people wanted me out of the way. My case will have no adverse effect on my film."
Ilyasi claims he has done a lot of research on Shukla. "I will not make a film on such a sensitive topic without extensive research," he says. "Initially, I thought of making his character speak Bhojpuri, which was the language he spoke. Later, I decided against it. I do not want to limit the reach of this film. I want it to be seen by everyone. It will be ready in seven months. We will shoot in Mumbai, Lucknow, Muzzafarnagar, Meerut and the interiors of Uttar Pradesh."
In order to add to the film's appeal, Ilyasi has added songs. "There will also be one or two item numbers as well," he says. "But the songs have not been forced into the film. The story rolls ahead with every song."