The sleepy town of Malegaon, tucked around 300 kms from Mumbai, came alive on multiplex screens on Friday as the documentary, Supermen of Malegaon, based on the making of the much anticipated spoof Malegaon ka Superman, released with an anti-tobacco message for the viewers.
However, the absence of lead protagonist Shafique Shaikh, who himself succumbed to oral cancer last year, was strongly felt as the documentary released to packed houses.
It is ironic that Shaikh, who fights the “tobacco villain” in the spoof flick which has been filmed in the documentary, was himself consuming excessive gutkha since he turned 15.
“Shaikh was detected to be suffering from advanced fourth stage mouth cancer a year back. He also underwent a surgery six months back. The relapse that later occurred infiltrated his lungs through the windpipe. He died of excessive choking and lack of oxygen in September,” said Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, who had operated on Shaikh.
Ateek, his younger brother, said, “Shaikh was not able to eat solid food or water since many days. He was critically ill since a year.
His last wish was to witness the release of the documentary as well as the film, and he would have been elated to be present here today. He is always with us in our prayers and memories.”
Faiza Khan’s documentary, Supermen of Malegaon, depicts the process of making a localised spoof film by director Nasir Sheikh and his motley of passionate crew members. “It intrigued me as to how in a region scarce of resources and stricken by poverty, a few people kept alive their passion of filmmaking at shoe string budgets. The documentary is the journey tracking the making of ‘Malegaon ka Superman’ as they were shooting it,” said Khan.
Malegaon is the hub of cotton production in Maharashtra and is dotted with numerous power looms. The power looms face massive electricity cuts, sometimes as many as eight hours. “The massive electricity cuts faced by the looms during the day forces the labourers to work night shifts. A lot of times, in a bid to stay awake through the night to keep the power looms running, labourers get addicted to tobacco chewing habits,” said Khan. “In a way, Shaikh has personified Malegaon. He was scrawny, yet in a way he fought against all odds to emerge victorious in the film.”