It's an unheard-of screen phenomenon. For his intense political drama Rajniti, Prakash Jha has hired and trained 5,000 theatre actors to play the participants in various political rallies.
Grins the gritty political filmmaker: "Bhopal has turned into a city of rallies. We'll be shooting rallies with Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai, Arjun Rampal, Naseer....all the actors who play politicians. The rally spectators, all 5,000 of them, were selected and trained by us in a workshop."
To ensure that the local Madhya Pradesh citizens do not protest about the hiring of the unit's work force from outside their state, Jha hired the entire 5,000-strong assemblage of actors exclusively from the state.
Jha told IANS: "If we had hired ordinary crowds we wouldn't have got the energy of a real political rally. These actors playing participants in rallies were selected from Jabalpur, Satna, Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior and other cities of Madhya Pradesh.
"They are all from street theatre, local and folk theatre. We selected them and put them under rigorous workshop. Now we've brought them down to Bhopal, made arrangements for their board and lodging and we're shooting with them. Our unit is quite used to working with crowds."
Jha chose Bhopal in lieu of India's political capital where shooting a sensitive political film would have been an impossibility.
Jha said: "Bhopal is a beautiful city. And we needed a Hindi-speaking capital city. Earlier, Ismail Merchant's In Custody and Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool were shot here."
"Through this whole schedule we'll be shooting only rallies. My voice is already gone. To manage 5,000 people at once is not easy," Jha said.