Politics pens own thriller

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Producer, director and screenwriter, Prakash Jha, is highly respected for his political and socio-political films. This week he brings another to the big screen, Chakravyuh, which opens on Friday. Bollyworld’s Latoya Newman chatted to the man behind the movies about the film, politics and much more…

YOU could say he stumbled upon his career in film, but then again there are no accidents when it comes to destiny, and judging by Prakash Jha’s list of accomplishments, I’d say he was destined to be a film-maker.

His is quite an interesting journey, from being born and raised on his family’s farm to studying physics and dropping that subject to pursue art.

It was this move that led him on the road to film, he explains: “I quit college mid-way to come to Mumbai to be a painter. I was waiting for the semester to start when a friend was invited to watch a movie that was being filmed. I tagged along.”

That film was Dharma, the 1973 box office hit directed by Chand and, for Jha, the movie that inspired his path into film: “I was taken up with it and for 12 hours straight stood and watched the film being shot.”

Almost 40 years down the line and Jha has established himself as a respected and celebrated film-maker with Damul, Gangaajal, Raajneeti, Aarakshan and many more movies under his belt.

Having run for political office in 2004 and 2009, considering his involvement in development through NGOs, and with his films largely dealing with socio-political realities, I asked Jha what drives his passion for such matters:

“I don’t know if I can claim to be socially passionate. I feel something should be done to give back to society. I am always interested in why social change happens. I study it and relay it in my movies,” he said.

His latest point of study, Chakravyuh, is a political thriller/ commentary on the issues of the Naxalites. According to a report on Indian left wing extremist groups on www.satp.org, the Naxalites are militant communist groups operating in different parts of India. They’ve also been declared terrorists by the Indian government.

According to the movie’s plot there is a war raging in India. A war to which an end can’t be seen, a war that isn’t being waged by outsiders. The youth of the country are rebelling against injustice, tyranny and exploitation. There is anger and deep social unrest.

Chakravyuh is the story of six extraordinary characters, each with an all-consuming dream and a promise they will uphold above everything else.

Asked if he was inspired to make the film after the likes of the recent Middle East uprisings and the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, Jha said he’d been observing the Naxalite problem for some time.

“In the past eight to 10 years it has grown to huge proportions. Recently almost 100 000 Indian Forces were involved in battling these guerillas, and the entire jungle in India, where all the mines and minerals are located, are constantly under siege.

“So all the projects the government has tried to sanction have been stalled. These movements in the jungle are now moving into the industrial areas, residential areas and the universities. So it is important to look at this,” he said.

Chakravyuh stars Arjun Rampal, Abhay Deol, Esha Gupta, Manoj Bajpayee, Kabir Bedi and Anjali Patil.

“I do my casting instinctively. As I’m writing my script, the characters appear. It’s more an instinctive kind of motivation I go for. They are all good actors.”

Asked if he aimed to partly inform people through his movies, rather than just make them for entertainment, Jha said: “If I don’t think about entertainment and if I don’t make my films in a very entertaining manner, I don’t think I’ll get to make the next one.

“For me this is a way of life, telling other people’s stories. So when I think about a movie, I don’t think about educating or entertaining, I just want to tell the stories I come across.”


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