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Lohardaga eyes Feb'23 release

The film is based on an incident in Jharkhand where youth were falsely lured to surrender as a Naxalite in pretext of jobs of their choice.

In 2012, about more than 500 tribal unemployed youths living in the forests of Jharkhand were falsely made Naxalites on paper and forced to surrender. Most of the youths who surrendered simply wanted to serve the Indian Army for a noble cause. By taking money from these youths, it was claimed that by surrendering as Naxalites, they would get their desired job. This story caught attention of Lal Vijay Shahdeo, who decided to highlight the issue on the big screen and directed 'Lohardaga'. The film is set to release in February this year.

The story revolves around Manu, who was lured and made to surrender as a Naxalite. The film showcases Manu's struggles at each step of the way and ends up in a worse situation than before. Produced by Dr Neha Shandilya, the story is based on true events taking place in Jharkhand. It captures the state of the situation flawlessly, which flew under the radar of the Indian citizens.

While talking about the film, Shahdeo shares, "Lohardaga throws light on such a critical occurrence which didn't make a big splash in the media maybe because the government in power during that time was looking to save face. India is the world's youngest country, with over half the population being under the age of 25. Even though social media has changed compared to a decade ago. There are still many such Manus who spoil their lives by becoming Maoist because of greed or poverty."

The film stars actors Sanjay Mishra, Akhilendra Mishra, Ravi Jhankal, Dadhi Pandey, Hansraj Jagtap, Neetu Pandey, Charul Malik, Priya Ambust and Sarvadaman, among others.

Dr Shandilya came onboard as a producer as she thought that the film will be able to bring a change in the society.

"We made this film to spread awareness about the situation and not let history repeat itself. We have to save our young ones and be better providers for their future. We majorly casted fresh faces for this film as we believe in offering a platform for up-and-coming artists. We are hopeful that the audience will enjoy the film and spread the message that we convey with it," she added.

The script also deeply touched actor Sanjay Mishra. "I was encapsulated when I read the script and found out that it was based on true events. We can only fathom the struggle and fear these several young kids carried during this ordeal. We – the citizens as well as our Indian government should strive towards being a bridge for our youth and guide them towards a better future, not making fake promises for some petty cash. I hope the audience will watch the film and understand the gravity of the incident," he shared.

Actor Vijay Raaz found the film's story sensitive yet informative.

"This is unfortunate to learn that thousands of poor innocent youngsters became Maoists, just to get jobs as promised under the surrender scheme of the government. It is much more disheartening to know that such stories never used to see the light of day in the past," he said.

Written by Vijay Lal Shahdeo along with Kedar Dharwadkar and Sandeep Akut, the makers hope that the film will be able to leave a mark in the hearts of Indian audiences as it did internationally. Lohardaga was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 where it was well received.

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