Twenty-five years ago, Anand Kumar, a resident of Patna in Bihar state, located in the eastern region of India, got the opportunity to pursue education in the UK’s prestigious Cambridge University. However, his family’s financial constraints came in the way. To raise money to fund his education, Kumar ran from pillar to post. But all he received was advise against it or chided for aiming too high.
His life’s story, including struggles and success, has now been depicted in the Bollywood movie ‘Super 30’, starring Hrithik Roshan.
Speaking exclusively to Gulf News tabloid!, Kumar said, “I think, life had paved a much larger role for me. My experience says that anything is possible when human potential is tapped. It’s a lesson I teach my students everyday. This will also be conveyed through the movie. Super 30 is an inspirational story of a man who made a difference in the lives of children coming from impoverished backgrounds. It conveys that irrespective of gender and social status, education must be provided to every child.”
In his recent post, Roshan, who is reprising the role of Anand, the mathematician and teacher, wrote: “If you want to be a nation builder, become a teacher. Because it’s them who are seeding the thoughts, shaping the future of our society and country in the true sense.”
The roller-coaster ride
A man of international fame, Kumar runs Super 30, a free coaching institute in Patna for the underprivileged students. Along with providing books, food and accommodation, the educationist helps them crack the highly competitive Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE).
He reminiscences, “I lost my father the same year that I got the chance to study abroad. I spent sleepless nights making plans on how to provide a better living to my mother and brother. I found solace in teaching the students who were faring well in examinations. Seeing the results of my efforts, I decided to start a new venture.”
Failure lead to success
His loved mathematics so much that in 1992, while he was still pursuing graduation, Kumar set up the Ramanujan Society of Mathematics. The private coaching institute, named after the famous Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, trained students for various competitive examinations at a nominal fee. For the extremely poor, even the small amount was waived off.
In 2002, Kumar entrusted his brother Pranav with the responsibility of managing his innovative programme. While his mother cooked meals for 30 students, Anand restricted himself to academics. In the first year, 18 out of 30 students competed for IIT examinations. Every year, the number kept improving. The turn around came in 2008, when the result was an astonishing 30 out of 30. “As my mother exclaimed, ‘What lovely 30 children’, my brother said, ‘Super kids’. That’s how Super 30 became a success story,” Kumar revealed.
How time(s) changed!
“Ever since, thousands of students turn up every year, out of which 200 poor but talented students are selected and finally 30 are shortlisted and trained after a through screening. Super 30 students have made it to top companies in countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. During vacations, when they visit Patna, many volunteer to teach students of Super 30,” Kumar says excitedly.
The institute has made it to Time magazine’s ‘Best of Asia 2010 list’; becoming the only educational centre from Asia to have bagged this honour.
For the achievement and success, Kumar gives all credit to the students. “Some studied for up to 16 hours a day, ate simple food and focused on their goals. On my part, I only try to ensure that those with talent do not get left behind for lack of coaching or resources.”
Medium is the message
Kumar, now touring various states to promote the movie, shares, “It’s not important that ‘Super 30’ is about my life. What thrills me is that a motivational message is being spread on the importance of education in life. I had long discussions with the filmmaker, as I wanted the truth to come out. But never interfered with director Vikas Behl’s work. For just as he can’t teach me maths, I can’t teach him the art of filmmaking. So, together, we improved the script 12-13 times.”
The movie also features TV actress Mrunal Thakur. Asked if such a character exists in real life, Kumar remarked, “It would be good to watch some aspects in the movie. Super 30 is not a biopic, but a movie based on my life. The events shown in the movie are true. But yes, I also gave them some liberties to make few changes so that it becomes an entertainer.”
All 30 children in the movie are from Bihar and five among them have been students of Kumar. Sharing a different side of these students, Roshan said, “I had some beautiful memories with the kids who have shot with me for the film. A lot of them were facing the camera for the first time. We have literally danced, sang and eaten together.”
One of the students, Aayush Kumar Shukla, informed, “When we met him for the first time, we were all in awe of Hrithik Roshan, the star. But he made us feel so comfortable. While shooting, he taught me to act and I gave him tips on mathematics! It was such fun to dance on a Bhojpuri song at the movie’s wrap-up party.”
Anand on Hrithik
“Hrithik has been amazing. When discussion began on the actor to play my role on screen, names of several top actors came up. But I was keen on Hrithik. When we met the first time two years ago in Mumbai, Hrithik said he would have to prepare extensively to portray my character. From mannerisms to language and accent, everything was challenging. Thereafter, whenever we met, including on the sets, he would ask me how I would react at a certain time in my life and then emote that in front of the camera. During discussions, he would get so engrossed that once he forgot to wear his footwear, when he came to see me off at the door!
“The filmmakers sought my permission to shoot 150 hours of footage at my house in Patna, capturing my everyday life. Hrithik watched those videos before beginning work on the movie. And then, he did not meet us for three months. Later, so well prepared he was that it shocked me. He looked like my shadow! From capturing the movements of my hands to the reflection of pain and struggle, I could see everything in him in the movie’s trailer. Hrithik has imbibed my soul in the movie. We could not have chosen a better option.”
Even though playing the Patna-based mathematician has made Hrithik immensely popular in Bihar, the actor has not visited the state yet. The movie has mostly been shot in Rajasthan’s Sambhar village and some portions were filmed in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Only a minuscule part was shot in Bihar.
Don’t miss it!
‘Super 30’ releases in the UAE on July 11.
Did you know?
Writer Sanjeev Dutta first proposed the idea for a movie on Anand Kumar eight years ago. Not finding Anand too keen on it, he took director Anurag Basu along to meet Anand. They met a few times, when Basu was making Jagga Jasoos. But, the director gradually lost interest. Two years ago, director Vikas Behl and producer Madhu Mantena approached Anand and succeeded in convincing him.