Is Rishi Kapoor-Tapsee Pannu courtroom drama based on real life Lucknow terrorism incident?


It is not true that Anubhav Sinha’s courtroom drama Mulk that releases on August 3 is inspired by the tragic events of 26/11 in Mumbai. According to sources, this film is reportedly based on the real story of Kanpur tannery supervisor Sartaj Khan whose son Saifulla, a suspected ISIS terrorist, was killed on March 9, 2017 in an encounter by the UP Anti-Terrorism Squad in a Lucknow residential area.

Sartaj, defying Islamic traditions and challenging societal norms, absolutely refused to accept Saifulla’s bullet-ridden body for burial on the grounds that his son had betrayed the country. “A traitor cannot be my son,” he had defiantly roared in Kanpur, causing Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to say in Parliament that the government was proud of Sartaj.

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There was a twist to the real story after Saifulla was gunned down in an encounter that lasted 12 hours and resulted in the police recovering eight pistols, 630 live cartridges, Rs. 1.5 lakh, three mobile phones, four SIM cards, two wireless sets and foreign currency from his Lucknow hideout. Saifulla, who was alternately described as a self-radicalised sympathiser and an active member of the ISIS, was allegedly responsible for a train explosion in Madhya Pradesh the previous before.

At the time, a shocked Sartaj had refused to accept his son’s body because he refused to believe Saifulla had been a terrorist. Later, he maintained his stance when he was convinced and told the media, “Jo desh ka na hua, woh mera kya hua?” Anubhav Sinha is believed to have sensitively tapped into Sartaj’s heartache and angst to prove to the world that while his son might have been a traitor, he and his family were patriots and would die for the country rather than betray it.

To do this, Sartaj had to go to court. And Anubhav Sinha is said to have captured the bereaved Kanpur Muslim man’s dilemma using Rishi Kapoor’s thunderous talent for this role that stirred the nation. Instead of the male Lucknow lawyer Shoaib Ahmed who fought Sartaj’s legal battle, Anubhav Sinha has reportedly brought in Tapsee Pannu to play this aggressive role. Prateek Babbar is supposedly essaying the role of Saifulla. Mulk is packed with emotional scenes that resemble Sartaj’s fight against society to continue staying in Kanpur when he and his family were branded Pakistan sympathisers and supporters of Osama Bin Laden. His house was stoned and they were all but ostracised by the conservative Kanpur society. Yet Sartaj Khan persevered.