PriyankaPereira Posted: May 23, 2011 at 0303 hrs
After the success of Raajneeti, filmmaker Prakash Jha went on to his
next venture Aarakshan, which focuses on caste-based reservations. In
a conversation with Priyanka Pereira, Jha clears the air about his
fallout with Devgn, and talks about working for the first time with
While Raajneeti came five years after Apaharan, Aarakshan has been
completed within a year. Was it an effort on your part to up the
Raajneeti required a lot of pre-production and I was also involved
with a lot more activities in my home state, Bihar. Now, I have more
or less wound up everything else and am doing films without any
disturbance. Also Aarakshan was an easier film to shoot, but it is a
better film than Raajneeti. It has a more focussed story. Did the
Supreme Court ruling on reservation for OBCs in educational
institutions add more substance to the script?
The subject of Aarakshan is inherent to Indian society. We live in a
caste-based society where even education is affected by the caste
system. The SC ruling definitely forms a turning point in the film.
The divisions had been simmering even before the ruling. The SC stamp
is only a reality every section of society has to accept. But it does
not end here. Everyday you hear more people, like the Gujjars and the
Muslims demanding reservation.
It is rather human to take sides when it comes to issues like these.
Was it difficult keeping a neutral stance?
Who am I to take sides? This is just a way to let out the feelings
that society has been suppressing for years. The pain is on all sides.
I have tried to understand the reality of it.
Is it true that a Dalit group protested against Saif Ali Khan, a Nawab
portraying a Dalit's role?
They sent a letter to my Patna office. It could have been just some
mischief as there was no address on the envelope. Hence, I cannot even
reply to them. If they think a Nawab playing Dalit is discrimination,
then somebody could raise their voice against a Dalit writing our
Constitution. Their fears are unfounded here.
When Aarakshan was being scripted, Ajay Devgn was roped in to play the
lead. Have things changed between you two since then?
Ajay would have definitely been there. But as I finalised the script,
I realised that casting him would be too typical. I needed a newer
face who would create a convincing persona. The film happened
hurriedly because I got Amitabh Bachchan's dates and Ajay was already
occupied with two other films. As luck would have it, Saif stepped in
and he has done an honest job.
Did the alleged fallout between the two of you post Raajneeti, fuel
Not at all. Everything is absolutely fine between us. People just
assume that we are not okay with each other.
You are working for the first time with Amitabh Bachchan. Was he a
natural choice for the role of a principal?
He was the only choice. We needed an aged, towering and dignified
personality to play the role of a principal and he fit in.
What is the next issue you are planning to base your film?
It's strange but the whole concept of development — India surging
ahead — beats me. I fail to understand who really is surging ahead. If
development has to happen at the cost of 80-85 per cent of the
population not benefiting by it, then is it really worth it?
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