Inspired by the story of Kashmira Singh and similar patriots who went undercover across the border, only to be denounced on their return as Pakistani double agents, Jawahar Jairath decided to make the film,
Phaans—Ek Jasoos Ki Kahani
The film is scheduled for release on February 5 which was also the day when a nuclear test at Pokharan in 1998 almost brought India and Pakistan to the brink of another war.
What’s the story?
Learning that Pakistan is planning an attack on India, secret agent Jawahar, whose contacts across the border had come in handy during the ’65 war, is traced to a house in Delhi’s Tagore Garden.
The old man is bitter after his son, Jatin, serving with the Indian army is denounced as traitor by the BSF in ’78 and commits suicide. Still, he agrees to return as a secret agent is his son is cleared of the ignominy of being branded a gaddar.
Since he’s too old now, his granddaughter Sameera steps in for him and goes to Pakistan to ferret out secret documents detailing the ISI plans for terror attacks in India.
Weaving fact and fiction the veteran producer who plays a significant role in the film, launched his film eight months ago. And immediately ran into problems.
He had planned a shoot in Karachi and Lahore. But with bombs exploding there every other day, was denied permission to shoot.
“I had to recreate Pakistan at Delhi’s Azaad market near the Jama Masjid. Fortunately I stumbled across an old bungalow that looked like a Peshwari haveli but still had to spend a lakh on renovating it,” he informs.
Another Rs 7 lakh was spent in building the Wagah border at a small village of Ismall Khan near Noida after he was turned away from shooting on location. A dargah in Delhi was also out of bounds and he had to eventually build one in Mumbai as a setting for a song. The expensive sets created by Manoj Mishra and a bus painted to resemble the Samjhauta Express have set the budget up to almost Rs 2 crore. But Jairath is not worried about recovering costs.
“If I can give these unsung heroes their due I’ll be happy,” he says, admitting that he’s prepared for threatening calls across the border and controversies back home.
Ask him for his take on the snowballing IPL controversy over the inclusion of Pakistani players in the cricket league and he says that the team spirit of the game should not be affected.
The possibility of another war, he admits, is always there but Jairath is still hopeful that one day Indo-Pak peace will not be an impossible dream.