In an interview to the Press Trust of India news agency, mathematician and educationist Anand Kumar played down allegations that he had inflated the success rate of his non-profit coaching institute in Patna and pushed his students to join other, more expensive, centres.
Kumar is the subject of the upcoming biopic Super 30. Directed by Vikas Bahl and starring Hrithik Roshan in the lead role alongside Mrunal Thakur, Aditya Srivastava and Virendra Saxena, the movie will be released on July 12.
Super 30 was founded in 2002, and claims to provide free coaching to 30 economically backward students each year. However, Anand Kumar has been dogged by allegations of fraud and litigation in recent years.
A public interest litigation filed against Kumar in the Gauhati High Court in 2018 by four students of the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati challenged Kumar’s claims that 26 of his 30 students have cleared the IIT-JEE entrance exam. The students claimed that Kumar has not disclosed the names of these students, and that his real motive is to divert enrollments towards a private institute that he runs on the side, called the Ramanujan School of Mathematics. The petitioners have demanded a ban on the movie’s release.
Kumar denied the allegations in his PTI interview. “There are people who are talking negatively about me. When there was no film being made on my life there was no negativity but now there is,” he told PTI. “I do not take any grant or donation from anyone. Our prime minister, corporators, business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani or Anand Mahindra have offered donations, but I haven’t accepted anything... I only want to do good work in the field of education.”
Super 30 has had to weather other storms. Vikas Bahl was briefly dropped from the co-production between Reliance Entertainment, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment and Phantom Films following allegations that he sexually assaulted a former colleague. Roshan distanced himself from Bahl in the wake of the allegations.
Bahl’s director credit was restored after he was cleared by an internal inquiry conducted by Reliance Entertainment. Anand Kumar said that he was shocked by the allegations against Bahl, whom he described as “a very helpful person” who had done good for his village. “All I know is he is a good filmmaker and has worked with utmost honesty on this film,” Kumar told PTI.
Since Kumar wanted his biopic to be “as accurate and authentic as possible”, he had personally approved the screenplay and insisted on an actor, director and music director of his choice. Sairat hitmakers Ajay-Atul have composed the music for Super 30.
The screenplay had to be rewritten 13 times, Anand Kumar claimed. He picked Bahl after the success of Queen (2014), and was in touch with several actors before Hrithik Roshan was roped in. Roshan was “very dedicated towards the film”, Kumar said.
Kumar also countered criticism of Roshan’s darkened complexion and unconvincing Magahi accent. “I am a middle-class man and in my life most of the time I am sweating, giving lectures and I usually roam from one place to other, so my skin would definitely be tanned,” Kumar told PTI. “Hrithik did work a lot on getting his look and language right. He has got the exact language and [skin] tone.”
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