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Dabbawalas make big screen entry with Marathi film

The film depicts the lives and work of these men who never fail to reach their patrons

Irada P.P. & Priyanka Bhosale

Mumbai, May 17: Clad in white topis and simple dhotis, they have made it to the country’s top most institutes to deliver lectures on their management skills. They have also been in news for making it to the wedding of Prince Charles. And now, film industry has decided to take notice of them in its own way.

Soon, 5,000 dabbawalas across the city will make their ‘debut’ in Mumbaicha Dabewala, a two-and-a-half-hour feature film directed by Marathi film-maker Manohar Sarvankar.

The Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association has been around ever since the pre-Independence period, and has finally captured the fancy of the big screen.

Sarvankar, who feels that such a film is a novel idea, says, “We have seen films on coolies, but most of them are fiction-based. This film will depict the various realities of the lives of the dabbawalas like the discipline involved in their profession, their system of law, the problems they face on personal and professional front.”

The film centres around Namdeo, a dabbawala, and traces the trials and tribulations of his professional and personal life. Noted actor Bharat Jadhav who essays the role of Namdeo, says, “As a child, I would see dabbawalas carrying tiffins, but never really knew how intricate their system was. While I was doing the film, I learnt a lot about how the whole system works,” he says.

The film, which was shot in just 25 days, is in the post-production stage and is expected to release in a few months. “It took our team two years to do the required research on the system of the dabbawalas,” says Sarvankar. Apart from the lead roles, the film also features the ‘original’ dabbawalas in small roles. “We feel very honoured to be a part of this film and take great pride in our association,” says Raghunath Medge, president of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association.
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