Agastya Nanda to Star In 2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal's Biopic. Who Was The War Hero?

Directed by Sriram Raghavan, the film is called 'Ekkis.'

3 min read
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Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson, Agastya Nanda, is all set to star in the biopic of  Arun Khetarpal, a young soldier who died on the battlefield of Basantar in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. Directed by Sriram Raghavan, the film is titled Ekkis and was previously said to star Varun Dhawan.


During an interview with Film Companion, Raghavan revealed why Nanda was the perfect choice for the role. He said: “He’s a guy who is refreshingly normal and there’s no bells and whistles. I have seen his The Archies and I loved the film, I loved his character and many other characters in the film. So I know he knows the process of the film and now I am looking at diving with him into more subjects.”

Directed by Sriram Raghavan, the film is called 'Ekkis.'

Agastya Nanda in a still from The Archies.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

What is Raghavan’s film about? 

Centring around Khetarpal, a young boy of 21, the story will be premised upon political tensions between West Pakistan and the erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) that flared up after Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s party won 160 out of 300 seats in the 1970 elections.

The Indian Army assisted the Bangladeshi resistance. On 3 December 1971, the Pakistan Air Force launched pre-emptive strikes on eleven airfields across north-western India, officially triggering the war.

How did Khetarpal become part of the war?

Khetarpal was born in Pune on 14 October, 1950. He finished his schooling from The Lawrence School, Sanawar in Himachal Pradesh. Fresh out of school, in June 1967, the 16-year-old was accepted into the National Defence Academy (NDA).

Four years later on 13 June 1971, he graduated from the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun and was commissioned into the Poona Horse (17 Horse) armoured regiment. Khetarpal was with the regiment’s ‘A’ squadron, and his job was to operate a battle-tank.

Khetarpal, with the rest of the 17 Horse, was engaging the Pakistani Army in the Shakargarh Sector on the western border. The warfare was concentrated around the river Basantar, a tributary that met the Ravi further south.

On 16 December, Khetarpal led a fierce charge to the aid of an overwhelmed ‘B’ squadron, crushing enemy forces. The happenings of the incident were written by an officer of the ‘B’ squadron. The officer recounted the details of how Khetarpal overcame the attack till the opposition was defeated. However, he breathed his last on that day.

Khetarpal was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration for his “indomitable fighting spirit.”

Khetarpal's legacy

After the war, the legendary Centurion Mk 7 tank “Fama Gusta” that Arun Khetarpal rode into battle, was restored and put on display at the Armoured Corps Centre and School in Ahmednagar.

Moreover, the parade ground at the National Defence Academy was rechristened “Khetarpal Ground” in honour.

Directed by Sriram Raghavan, the film is called 'Ekkis.'

Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal. 

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)


Agastya Nanda on starring in Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal biopic

Nanda, who is currently gearing up for the film, told Film Companion that he had introduced himself to Dinesh Vijan prior and the producer had said that he would stay in touch after which he got a call from him. Soon after, he was selected for the role.

He also elaborated on what excited him about the role:

"Army men’s lifestyle, their discipline, their integrity. I am a fan because I have gone to boarding school, so I have had like five percent of what that life is like but going to the regiment and the respect I have for my country and the army now is on another level. So the passion and the drive to do justice to them is through the roof. I really don’t want to let them down, because it is beautiful what they do for us and so selfless.”
Agastya Nanda, Actor

With Raghavan's film going on floors this January, the revered war hero's legacy is all set to hit the silver screens.

(With inputs from India Today and Honourpoint)

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Topics:  Agastya Nanda 

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