He's been in show business for over three decades...and today, at 53, is involved in multiple projects. Once married to film actress Deepti Naval and now 'busily' single, Prakash Jha in a chat fest with Vajir Singh.
At work, you're busy with a hundred things at a time.. but when you return home, isn't it lonely?
Where's the time to feel lonely? See, 20 days out of 30 I'm travelling. I'm drowned in work.. be it movies or the other business I've recently floated in Bihar. It's hardly a lonely life.
So, there's no craving for a companion?
Naah. To get into a relationship you have to first meet someone with whom you feel the urge to spend time.. live your life.
In my case, I've failed to find that one woman.. for so many years. (Smiles)
This may be a bit personal but may I ask what went wrong between you and Deepti Naval?
It's been a long time.. and it's much too personal. I'll just say that we were two mature persons who took a decision.. and accepted that things weren't working out. <b1>
Are you still in touch with her?
She's an artiste, and busy with her creative world. So am I. But there are no hiccups.
What about your daughter Disha?
She finished school recently and wants to be a part of my production house. She is actively involved in the day-to-day production of my movies.
Is she interested in the other aspects of filmmaking too.. like direction?
No, she's totally into production and keen to do just that for now.
Weren't you dating Cleo Issac a few years ago?
Rubbish! Going out for a cup of tea and spending some time together doesn't mean that something is happening. The media tends to go overboard sometimes. They link anyone and everyone.
Does that mean you have stopped going out for tea with anyone?
(Laughs) No way! Why should I stop? And what's the harm in going out for chai?
Did you know that Maanyata, who did an item number in your film Gangaajal, is now reportedly married to Sanjay Dutt?
(Longish pause) I've heard about it. She came to my office when I was planning Gangaajal. She wanted to be an actress and dropped her photographs.
My choreographer thought she would be apt for this particular dance number.. we approached her and she did it. That's it!
Are you in touch with her? <b2>
She called my office after the shoot. I didn't have another role for her at that time. She would co-ordinate with or talk with the guys at the office. I was never in touch with her personally.
What was the need to get into multiple productions?
I've an efficient production team and I make movies once in two years. Since corporate funding is easily accessible these days, I decided to take advantage of it.
It allows my production house to get into genres I don't dabble in. Films like Dil Dosti etc. Manish Tiwari came to my office one day with the script. The subject impressed me.
Wasn't the film triggered off by a true incident that happened in Delhi some years ago?
Well, many of the characters are true-to-life. And the presentation is bold.
To escape ragging, Imaad (Naseeruddin Shah's son) goes to a kotha on GB Road every night on the pretext of meeting his local guardian.
Your second film Khoya Khoya Chand is also reportedly based on the much-talked-about Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman romance. Comment.
It can be anyone's story. There are so many actors, directors and technicians coming to Mumbai.. and being exploited. It could be Guru Dutt sahab.. it could be Javed Akhtar sahab who also came from a small town in UP.
It could be your own director Sudhir Mishra too?
No, that it isn't. It's only his take on a bygone era. Khoya Khoya Chand has been projected as a Rs 40-crore worth project.
Are these figures for real?
When the film releases, you'll be able to assess for yourself how much it's worth. It's a period film. The costumes.. the look.. is rich. And we have created 27 sets.
Would you say it's the costliest project made by your production house?
No, no.. Gangaajal and Apaharan were far more expensive than Khoya Khoya Chand.
Are you an interfering producer?
My contribution ends once the subject is selected and we've discussed how it is to be handled. I visited the sets of Dil Dosti etc just once.. same with Khoya Khoya Chand. And they were just passing visits. It was only when the films were being edited that I made some creative contributions.
Are corporates a boon for the film industry?
Corporate funding has given the creative mind the opportunity to attempt a variety of films. <b3>
Also, earlier, if one wanted to release a film theatrically, one ended up having to pay a huge amount on rent. Today, with the multiplex boom, even films featuring no big names are being released.
But it is also being said that today's films lack content.
That's always been the case but the good news is that actors today are not taking up every project that come their way. They pick the best from what is offered to them. And by doing fewer films, they have time to pick the best.
Yet, they are still not accessible, even to topnotch filmmakers.
(Smiles) I agree. That too hasn't changed. They've always been inaccessible.
Is that why Ajay Devgan is a permanent fixture in your films?
See, after working together in a couple of projects, you develop a certain comfort level with an actor. But that doesn't mean that I'll limit myself only to working with Ajay.
Isn't he a part of your next film Rajneeti?
He is. But he isn't the only one there are four-five principal characters and I'll be working with other actors too. <b4>
Will Rajneeti deal with another of Bihar's burning issues.. like your other films?
I don't want to divulge too much at this stage.. except that it will peep into the loktantra today. I intend to start shooting early next year. You'll learn more then.
You seem fascinated with Rajneeti. Is that why you jumped into politics?
When I'm making films I'm trying to understand society. Getting into politics too was for a similar purpose.. only it was for real. I wanted to do something for Bihar in terms of development.
Is that why you've opened a chain of multiplexes in Bihar?
Yeah, they'll help in the development of Bihar.
Do you know that not a single company from Bihar is listed in the BSE?
But I'm optimistic that things will change. Hopefully, there will be some tie-ups with foreign companies. That's my endeavour.
Finally, where do you go from here?
Films.. more films. Next year, my production house will be making five movies. Also, I plan to explore the television medium with a bigbudget serial, Bahubali.