Bengaluru: A biopic on Infosys Ltd co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, one of India’s most celebrated entrepreneurs, is in the works. But this is one movie that is unlikely to feature a song-and-dance sequence, standard fare in most Hindi films. Filmmaker Sanjay Tripathy first approached Murthy about eight months ago and is now working on the script of the film, two executives familiar with the development said, requesting anonymity.
“About eight months back, Tripathy first expressed interest to make a movie on Murthy. Tripathy met Murthy at his home a couple of times and after much deliberation, Murthy approved the project," the first executive said on condition of anonymity.
Murthy’s brief was simple: “Don’t distort facts."
“It is known that Murthy took a ₹ 10,000 loan from wife Sudha to start the company. This cannot be twisted. But what was discussed between them can be shown according to what the director thinks is best," said the second executive.
Infosys Ltd, founded in July 1981, ended the last fiscal with a revenue of $10.94 billion and is considered by many as the company that put India on the global software map. Now, 72, Murthy is estimated to be worth $2.3 billion by Forbes.
The movie apart, Murthy is in the midst of penning a book on Infosys, according to a third person familiar with the development.
An email sent to Murthy on Tuesday seeking comment remained unanswered.
The son of a schoolteacher, the Infosys co-founder was born in Chikkaballapur district in south Karnataka and went on to do his masters from IIT, Kanpur. After a brief career as a systems programmer with Patni Computer Systems, Murthy, at 35, went on to start Infosys in Pune, with his home serving as the software startup’s first makeshift office.
The CEO of Infosys from 1981 to 2002 and later the chairman of the company, he stepped down in 2011. He returned in 2013 just for a year before stepping aside for Vishal Sikka to take over as the first non-founder CEO.
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Tripathy has already submitted a 30-page script to Murthy in Hindi and subsequently sent him an English translation, said the first executive cited earlier. “The script is still not locked and hopefully, it should be done in the next few months," the person said.
Biopics on businessmen are rare in Indian cinema. Mani Ratnam’s 2007 movie Guru was loosely based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of Reliance Industries Ltd.
Tripathy made the popular Turning Point science programme in the 1990s for Doordarshan. In 2013, he made his first Hindi movie, Club 60. Mahaveer Jain may be the producer of the movie, according to the two executives.
“Once the script is finalized, the locations will be scouted. At the same time, actors, including who will play the role of Murthy, too will be decided and then direction will start," said the second executive.
Murthy owns 0.38% in Infosys, while his wife Sudha, daughter Akshata and son Rohan together own 3.07% , bringing their total ownership to 3.45% in the company.
For now, it is not clear if the movie will show the turbulent times faced by Infosys under Sikka. Murthy was unhappy with some of the decisions taken by the company during the period Sikka helmed it and flagged concerns about what he believed were corporate governance lapses. This eventually led to Vishal Sikka’s resignation and a board shake-up, which saw the return of co-founder Nandan Nilekani as non-executive chairman.
Will there be song and dance in the movie?
“Will the movie address the lowest common denominator or will it let the makers of the movie do it with honesty is the decision that will be taken once the direction starts," said the first executive.
It needs to be seen if a movie can capture these shades of a man, who although simple in his lifestyle, was always complex in his thought.