Prakash Jha has been a very busy man these last few months. As a filmmaker, he was busy wrapping up his new film, the Ajay Devgan-starrer Gangaajal. And as the Chairman of Jury for the just-announced National Film Awards, he has been watching the 138 films that were in competition, sometimes at the rate of five films a day.
We veer in on Gangaajal straightaway, a film that brings back Jha to the realm of realistic portrayal of the social milieu — a la Damul or Mrityudand — after his brief courting of romance and the family formula (Dil Kya Kare and Rahul). “Gangaajal is a film with a concern,” he says. “With this film, I’m trying to understand the police-public relationship. More than the physical role of the police in India, there is the question of the policing of the human mind in the interiors that leads to violence. I am trying to define the role of that violence.”
Jha’s film, set in a small town of Bihar, is not all gory, though. “It is a very human film. There are scenes of violence in the film, but they aren’t gruesome. I don’t expect any censor problems,” he says.
Ajay Devgan as the Superintendent of Police, he points out, was a natural choice. “The role is of a thinking policeman. Ajay has developed very well as an ‘economical actor’ down the years — he uses the minimum range of expressions to successfully display the maximum range of emotions, never going over-the-top. That’s exactly what the role needed,” he explains.
Jha is optimistic about Bollywood’s future. “Small and big films will coexist from hereon,” he says. “A new breed of filmmakers is also open to trying new subjects and speaking in a new cinematic idiom. Maybe, the initial box-office responses haven’t been what we as filmmakers would like them to be but things will get better from here. The audience at large, after all, has become more intelligent.”
And if Gangaajal impresses the New-Age audience, Jha should be smiling around August-end, when his film is slated to release.