Earlier this week, actors Jimmy Shergill, Saif Ali Khan, producer Rahul Mittra and director Tigmanshu Dhulia were reported to have had prison food during the filming of Bullett Raja in Nashik. And, the trend is hot here in Delhi too, outside Tihar Jail.
Jail food, especially roti (chapatis) are in demand because the food prepared by those serving a sentence is believed to ward off evil. “There is a belief that jail food protects even the future generations of those who eat it to ward off bad luck. People use their contacts in Tihar to get hold of these chapatis. We get requests from everyone .... from VIPs to general public,” reveals a Tihar jail official, on the condition of anonymity. “People are so desperate that they are willing to pay any amount to anybody who can get jail ki roti for them,” says a former Tihar inmate.
Meanwhile, the film crew had it easy. “We were shooting for Bullett Raja inside the Nashik jail when Jimmy insisted that we have jail food. We had a simple lunch of chana and chapati prepared by the prisoners. No one had apprehensions and the food was very delicious,” said Mittra. “I hope the myth works and brings good luck to my film,” he added.
According to some astrologers, jail ki roti, is also mentioned in ancient books on astrology as a remedy to ward off evil. “This is a known remedy. If a person who is caught in a legal matter and has a case against him eats a roti made by a prisoner, chances are he’ll get out of the mess,” says astrologer Nitin Manchanda.
Rationalists, however, say that this is mere superstition. “There is no scientific basis to it. If jail roti was so effective, no one would ever have anything bad happening in their lives. It is more of psychological counselling, a kind of belief that brings comfort,” says BK Tyagi, a scientist from Vigyan Prasar.
With inputs from Navdeep Kaur Marwah