Aarakshan will open as scheduled on August 12. On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court cleared the film based on the contentious reservation policy and the commercialisation of education for screening. It also turned down demands for pre-screenings for any section of society. The Madras High Court too vacated a stay on the film’s release following an out-of-court settled between co-producer Feroz Nadiadwala and financier Madhu Gupta over pending dues. Now, producer-director Prakash Jha is a relieved man.
“When you make a film on a social issue, everyone has a point of view on it. I’m ready for both criticism and compliments, but wait till you’ve seen the film. To borrow a line from one of my songs, ‘Ek chance to de de meri jaan...’ I’m sure no one will be offended,” he asserts.
Jha points out that while he’s made the film for everyone, he doesn’t feel the need to show it to anyone before Friday. “The only body that needed to see it pre-release was the Censor Board. And keeping the sensitivity of the issue in mind, they took a tough stand. They set up a nine-member committee that represented all castes and classes to ensure that there was nothing offensive. And the expert panel passed the film with an ‘U/A’ certificate without any cuts,” he argues.
Aarakshan is partly inspired by a short story, Shiksha, which Kamlesh Pandey narrated to Jha. “We’ve taken the germ of the idea from it but given Kamlesh
credit for the story,” says the filmmaker, adding that in the last 25 years, the concept of education has changed from the traditional ‘
(student-teacher tradition) with the infiltration of coaching classes, corporatisation, IITs, IIMs and capitation fees. In this scenario, the government’s reservation policy in support of the backward classes and castes has become a burning issue.
“I’d been collecting material, watching films on the subject, reading up and waiting for a trigger. It came with the news flash of a real-life idealistic college principal,” reminisces Jha, who immediately took his story to Amitabh Bachchan who was shooting for Gaurang Doshi’s Deewar at the time. “He loved it and was ready to do it immediately, but I was shooting Apaharan (2005) then and had to complete Raajneeti (2010) before starting Aarakshan. That was seven years ago.”