‘Chandu Champion’ a.k.a. Muralikant Petkar a.k.a. determination! The true story behind Kartik Aaryan’s upcoming movie

In what he describes as one of his toughest films, actor Kartik Aaryan’s next  ‘Chandu Champion’ is making heads turn. Such was his transformation that when the poster was released a few days ago, one had to look twice to confirm it was indeed the 33-year-old actor.

The biopic is based on the life of Muralikant Petkar, India’s first Paralympic gold medalist, who transitioned from a boxer and soldier to a swimmer. “Muralikant Petkar’s story is the story of free India”, the trailer states. 

Set against the backdrop of the Indian freedom struggle, Murali’s journey mirrors the nation’s fight for independence, as he overcomes a series of setbacks to achieve greatness through sheer determination. 

Having sustained nine bullet wounds in the 1965 Indo-Pak war, Muralikant Petkar turned to swimming as a means of rehabilitation. Originally a boxer in the Arms and Service branch of the Indian Army, he also excelled in other sports, reaching the finals in javelin throw slalom in the 1968 Paralympics, before bagging gold for swimming four years later (1972, Germany Games).  

He also has a world record to his name in 50m freestyle swimming event, with a timing of 37.33 seconds. India honoured him with the Padmashree in 2018, 46 years after his accomplishment. His tenacity and achievements even prompted former Indian cricket captain Rahul Dravid to mention Petkar in his book on specially-abled athletes.

The film is directed by Kabir Khan, known for films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, 83, and co-produced with Sajid Nadiadwala. The trailer looks promising, checking the boxes of a biopic effortlessly, garnering positive responses from the audience.

Kartik’s new look is also earning praise. His commitment to the role is evident in his physical transformation achieved through a rigorous diet and intense training over one-and-a-half years.

However, Kartik Aaryan was not the first actor to approach the story of the unsung hero. Muralikant recalls in an early interview how actor Sushant Singh, whose death shocked him, had approached him and shown keen interest in working on his biopic. 

Bollywood has a strong market for biopics, as evidenced by previous hits like Sushant Singh Rajput’s MS Dhoni, Farhan Akhtar’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and Vineet Kumar Singh’s Mukkabaaz. Time will tell if Chandu Champion joins this list.