In Chandigarh to promote his upcoming film on the challenging police-society relationship — Jai Gangaajal, in which he has also acted alongside Priyanka Chopra — film-maker Prakash Jha talks to HT about censorship, the debate on intolerance and why he loves Le Corbusier’s ‘organised’ Chandigarh. Known for his hard-hitting socio-political dramas like Raajneeti (2010), Apaharan (2005) and Gangaajal (2003), Jha feels he is yet to see concrete social change in society effected by films.
Q. As someone who has been very vocal about censorship, your upcoming film Jai Gangaajal was initially given an ‘A’ certificate with 11 cuts. Nevertheless, you got it cleared. Did that form your opinion about censorship woes in India?
A. (laughs) The censor board was averse to words like ‘saala’ and ‘ghanta’ which have not only been used earlier in films but are also understood by kids. We went to the tribunal and the film was cleared. We can do censorship on our own, and don’t need anyone to tell us what to do and what not to. We must understand that we place, or at least I do; we place a story in certain times and hence the language has to complement those times. I’m a storyteller at the end of the day.
Q. Continuing with that, so do you think the censor board is intolerant? You are among the few people from the industry who has actually had quite the opposite view...
A. I like to relate the whole intolerance debate to the various pressures we face in society. It is a competitive world and one is pressurised to take positions and maybe that’s where some of those who are in favour or oppose it, come to emerge. Young students committing suicide is a result of the pressure of development — these are all different kinds of ideologies in a changing world, all pressures or power. But, the fact that each of us coexist in a society means somewhere down the line, we are tolerant. Aamir opened the debate and he is still staying in the country. Shah Rukh has an opinion and that’s fine. It doesn’t make us intolerant as such.
Q. Would you say the same as far as the FTII protests are concerned, considering you too studied there briefly?
A. Yet again, people close to power attain positions of power. And that’s always the case. So why must we take it as a singularly intolerant episode? Of course, I wouldn’t want a politician or someone from a background completely oblivious of art and films to head the institution, but I don’t think the protests should turn violent. But then, everyone has the right to protest.
Q. You are here to interact with female officers of the recently opened women police station in Chandigarh. Anything else you are looking forward to while here?
A. I’m very excited to meet all of them and Chandigarh’s beauty and organised approach always makes you look forward to your next visit here.