The director of upcoming film
, Manish Gupta, is an ardent admirer of Rajkumar Hirani’s work. But two scenes in Hirani’s films —
— that portray ragging, in a humourous way disturbed him. Gupta, who is currently in the middle of a countrywide road trip that he organised to spread awareness about how serious and fatal ragging really is, plans on driving home the message, literally.
Says Gupta, “I respect Raju immensely, but I just thought he was a little irresponsible with the ragging scene. It’s a burning subject and you can’t joke about it. It only propagates disbelief. I want to tell people about the hundreds of students who have been blinded, crippled, murdered, sexually abused and have eventually committed suicide out of humiliation due to this ‘harmless’ interaction. It is not friendly and funny.”
Over the last few weeks, he has visited thousands of students in over 17 colleges in the city. Last week he was in Delhi and, in the coming days, he will be travelling to Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and, perhaps, Dehradun. As part of the awareness campaign, Gupta first screens a clip from the film, which shows the protagonist being stripped and made to walk around a campus.
“Then I tell them that this is not a film scene, but a true situation. Then I show them a slide show of birth dates and death dates with photos of young students who lost their lives to ragging,” says Gupta, adding, “About 30 to 40 per cent of male students seem to be in favour of ragging, while 100 female students are against it. I also share with them the anti-ragging government helpline.”
The film, due to release on January 21, hopes to bust all myths about ragging being a joke. “Cinema is a powerful medium. For instance, Apurva Lakhia is pro ragging. He said ragging makes people tougher and helps build personality. He feels so because he was ragged and when he became a senior, he did the same. This vicious cycle needs to be broken,” says he.