He is an ace director-producer who likes to portray the real, murky world in his films. Being a politician who fought elections from Bihar, it was only expected that Prakash Jha’s work would touch the dirty world of politics. With ‘Raajneeti’, Jha has brought forth the largest ensemble star cast in recent years with some actors playing unexpected roles. But, his confidence in the story and his actors has helped Jha fight all the storms before the release of the film.
You are a part time politician and your movies derive so much from politics. What interests you so much in it?
I always watch and analyse the developments that happen in society. The movements and changes that occur in society due to political reasons interest me. Once I understand those reasons, I try to project them in a story. Moreover, politics is there in every part and sphere of society.
What is the idea behind ‘Raajneeti’?
‘Raajneeti’ is a much wider appreciation of politics of mind, the way we behave with each other in the family, in the society. The whole story is of a large family and is set against elections. This is a political family, there are outsiders, insiders and those who oppose them. It’s a big emotional drama, actually.
Are there any real life incidents that have inspired your script and characters?
Not any real incidents as such, but the reality of politics…I can’t pin-point any particular incident but the effects of many incidents have been woven together in this film.
You have said you have borrowed a lot from the Mahabharata…
No, I have just taken some characters from Mahabharata. When I was developing the characters of my story I felt they were veering towards the characters of Mahabharata, so then I consciously molded them that way.
The way the characters are portrayed in 'Raajneeti' - Ranbir returning from abroad and going about in white kurta pyjama a la Rahul Gandhi, Katrina draped in sari like Indira etc.- does look like they take inspiration from the Gandhis as well…
Not really. Ranbir is an outsider, he comes back from the Harvard, but he is not interested in politics, he leaves the scenario soon. I am a responsible film-maker and would not do any such thing.
How did you manage such a big ensemble star cast?
Well, they are all very keen actors. They believe in the story and, to my good fortune, they all came together for it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to work hard to get them all. It wasn’t difficult to handle them at the same time because all characters were well researched and rehearsed. There wasn’t any challenge in that. We had a 103-day schedule in Bhopal, but because of the professionalism of all involved, we finished a day early.
Won’t you call it a risk to take Katrina in such a role?
Not at all, I believed in the character, I believed in her and I knew that she would be able to do it complete justice. She has dubbed her own voice- all the Hindi speeches and all- and she has done it to perfection.
You have said Katrina is the character of Draupadi. Who is Krishna?
Nana Patekar is Krishna of ‘Raajneeti’. He plays the one who is the mover & shaker of it all.
But then why is he not there in any publicity of the film?
You are only highlighting Ranbir, Katrina and Arjun Rampal. We believe Ajay Devgn has been upset about it as well.
I have such a big contingent of actors. Whenever I move about for publicity I have five to six actors with me already. The others are involved in publicity in the best way they think suitable. I don’t think each one can give all their time to one film alone. I spoke to Ajay about all the media report that he was angry and found there was no reality in that, it was media created.
Do you sometimes yearn to make an out & out commercial film, not necessarily issue based one?
‘Raajneeti’ is a commercial film. It is issue based as well as a full time commercial film in terms of the huge star cast, the sets, the publicity drive, all the hype etc- what else is a commercial film if not this!
Did you and your team get frustrated at a point with all the negative buzz being generated around 'Raajneeti' - the Gandhis saga, national anthem controversy, censor board issues etc?
No. When you make a film on societal issues then things like these do come up. Everyone will have an opinion on the issues and we will have to face them and answer the queries as well as we can.
So what’s next on your list?
I am doing a film on ‘Aarakshan’. It will star Mr Bachchan, Ajay Devgn and Manoj Bajpayee. I want Katrina in it as well. I am trying to convince her, but I haven’t shown her the script yet. I hope she likes it and I have the good fortune of working with her again.
Is Ajay Devgn your lucky mascot?
Ajay is a good actor, my good friend and brother. He is always there in whatever I do. Besides, he is a tremendous human being.