Cut to April 2, 1984, and Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. The Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 blasted off into space with the ship’s commander Yury Malyshev, flight engineer Gennadi Strekalov, and the first Indian to fly into space, Rakesh Sharma. The trio spent seven days, 21 hours and 40 minutes aboard the Salyut 7 Orbital Station conducting scientific and technical studies, including 43 experimental sessions.

At a televised news conference when the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked Sharma how India looked from outer space, he quipped, “Saare jahan se achcha.” The words borrowed from Iqbal’s patriotic poem, are as unforgettable as Sharma’s feat which propelled India into the elite list as the 14th nation to send a man into space. Thirty-four years later, Sharma’s journey will be recreated on screen with the iconic words uttered by Aamir Khan. For a few months now speculations have been rife about Aamir doing another biopic after his last, a wrestling drama. Buzz was, it would be titled Saare Jahan Se Achcha but Mirror has learnt that while the film will indeed be the story of retired Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, it will be titled Salute and produced by Siddharth Roy Kapur and Aamir jointly.

“Sid had approached Aamir with the script of his last film and this time too he went straight to him. The 2018 film will be made under his newly-launched banner RK Films (Roy Kapur Films). It will be directed by Mahesh Mathai,” informs a source close to the development.

Mahesh Mathai is a well known name in ad circles with several successful campaigns to his credit. He turned director with the 1999 human-drama, Bhopal Express, revolving around a newlywed couple and how their lives changed after the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.

Sharma started out as a test pilot with the Indian Air Force in 1970 before graduating to Squadron Leader and pilot of the Indian Air Force in 1984. Two years before that, on September 20, he was selected as a cosmonaut to go into space as part of a joint programme between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Soviet Intercosmos space program. On his return he was conferred the honour of Hero of Soviet Union and decorated with the Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award. Three decades later, he will get a salute from Bollywood’s Mr Perfectionist.

Both Aamir and Siddharth remained unavailable for comment.