Prakash Jha scripts new future
With Apaharan, released earlier this year, Prakash Jha completed a trilogy of sorts on his home state Bihar. If Mrityudand had explored the repercussions of patriarchy and feudalism on women, Gangaajal delved into the scenario that triggered the gruesome Bhagalpur blindings.
Apaharan, starring Ajay Devgan, Nana Patekar and Bipasha Basu, laid bare the unholy politics-crime nexus that allows the kidnapping racket to run rampant in Bihar.
Having chronicled the social and political ills of Bihar with insight and empathy over the years, Jha is now gearing up for a cinematic essay that will provide a more pan-Indian view on the nation’s polity. The film, titled Rajniti, will star Ajay Devgan and Nana Patekar besides “four other major actors”.
“I am currently writing the screenplay. Rajniti will roll in October this year,” Jha reveals in the course of a brief interview. Incidentally, he was slated to make the film immediately after Gangaajal, but the scale and sweep of the socio-political thriller necessitated keeping Rajniti in abeyance until everything was in place.
Ever since Rajniti was announced there have been speculations about the actors who will figure in the cast. Names like Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt and Lara Dutta have been bandied about. Jha, on his part, has maintained that none of these names has been finalised yet.
Including his own directorial venture, Jha’s production company, Holi Cow Pictures, will have at least four films either on the floors or in the theatres by the end of the year. “We are making films that we think are at once interesting and commercially viable,” he says.
The films on his slate are Nana Patekar’s second film as director, Sudhir Mishra’s period saga set in the 1950s Mumbai film industry and debutant Manish Tiwari’s Love Story, which is already under production. “Large parts of the film will be shot in Delhi in April,” he announces.
“Mishra’s film is ready to roll and Nana’s script is nearing completion,” says Jha. Tiwari, Jha reveals, is a promising director from Bihar who studied and learnt the craft o filmmaking abroad. Films to be directed by several other new and established filmmakers are in the Holi Cow Pictures line-up.
Jha feels the climate today is perfectly suited for films that blend entertainment with purpose. “The huge success of Rang De Basanti is a happy augury. It proves that not only are such films being made in increasing numbers, they are also striking a chord with moviegoers and succeeding at the box office,” says the filmmaker who has survived in Bollywood largely on his own terms all these years.
Jha is now poised to further the scope of those terms. The future he has scripted for himself is full of promise. As he makes a new leap of faith, adopting the studio model as a film producer by backing the ideas of other directors, he is clearly in a position from where he can make far greater impact on the Mumbai industry than his critically, and often commercially, successful films have done.