Priyadarshan new comedy Khatta Meetha starring Akshay Kumar has been altered to accommodate newspaper headlines. The film is now based on the mysterious 2009 murder of Bihar PWD engineer Yogendra Pandey who was allegedly killed by the crime cartel controlling the road construction business in the state. His body was found on June 18, 2009. Akshay Kumar plays the murdered engineer’s colleague who helps to bring the culprits to book. Priyan says, “My film has now become the story of Bihar’s road mafia. Makrand Deshpande plays the murdered engineer while Akshay plays his colleague.”
Initially, the film was based on Priyan’s 1988 drama Vellanakalude Nadu. “Initially, Khatta Meetha was based on the road mafia and corruption in the construction business but at that point of time, it was entirely fictional.” It was Akshay who suggested that the film be contemporised by bringing in Pandey’s notorious death. Priyan says, “We brought in the whole story of the death of the honest road engineer in Bihar who was apparently killed by the corrupt road mafia when he threatened to expose their wrongdoings. We introduced Makrand’s character based on Yogendra Pandey and Akshay as the friend and colleague who uncovers the bloody trail.”
Priyan and Akshay have hit on a new formula to counter the charge of making mindless comedies. Khatta Meetha being shot in dusty Satara at the moment blends satire with a social message. Priyan adds, “I think I’ll be doing this kind of a mixture of social comment and satire more often. In Khatta Meetha we took up a very serious and disturbing crime situation in Bihar but treated it lightly. No one wants to watch grim films anymore. We just have to find a way of letting the audience know what’s actually going on in the world while transporting them into a make-believe world at the same time.”
Akshay Kumar went out of his way to complete this film. “We did it in 90 days at a stretch. Akshay believes we’ve been able to do something important here. The message comes through the comedy,” said Priyan.