Prakash Jha, the national award winning director-producer, spoke to Ambreen Zaidi about his early days, present state of affairs of the country and his upcoming movie Arakshan. Some excerpts :
1- Do your formative years spent in the Sainik School, Tilaya, have a role to play in the kind of person that you are today??
I feel my years, in Sainik School, have been particularly crucial in shaping my mindset. Sainik schools as you are aware are rated amongst few of the best school which we have in India. They prepare you for life by instilling discipline, time management, camaraderie and sports along with the academics which ensure smooth physical and mental development. It has definitely changed my attitude towards life.
2- So, do you have plans to make a film on untold, unknown facets of Indian Army?
No. I never really thought about that. The movies I make are simply my way of sharing, whatever I see, observe, good and not so good aspects of our society. A lot of my friends from the school are at very high ranks in the Army today, I am in regular touch with them, but I do not think I will ever make a film on Army.
3- Nitish Kumar is now being known as the man with a magic wand, being from Bihar, what is your take on the present scenario of the state?
Nitishji has done what no else could ever do, since independence. The man deserves every bit of the accolades and appreciation. But as we are all aware, there is lot more which needs to be done which is an uphill task. Next few years are going to be crucial for him as well as for the state, but I am sure with Nitishji, Bihar is slowly and surely on its way to success.
4- The Nitish Kumar government has recently implemented "Right to Recall", which empowers the voters of the urban civic body polls to call back their elected representatives, if they do not perform well; this seems to be a major step forward.
This is a very powerful tool, if the public has the power to elect, then they should also have the authority to remove their elected representatives if they don?t execute their tasks well. The Right to Recall should be implemented all across the country. This will give more power to people and may be also help keeping a check on the corrupt.
4- We almost have a daily dose of scam these days, what do you think can be done to curb it?
"Aajkal bilkul bhi guru ki pratishtha nahi rahi hai". We do have achievers in the society but they are all materialistic achievers, just look around and see these industrialists, the rich people. Nobody has reached wherever he is, by simple hard work and honesty!! They have been plagued by a disease called ?greed?.
Even a common man, in our country, thinks in the same way. We have very few students who opt for research in pure science in subjects like physics and chemistry. Everybody is running after professional courses like MBA, MCA etc. Thats purely to earn more money. Today, being educated does not necessarily mean being learned, well informed and skilled. Our society is not ready to develop good teachers; it is no more a preferred profession. For example, just look at the teachers of our IIMs, who at most earn a salary of rupees one lakh a month, whereas a student taught by him gets a package not less than few crores. So, what are the values we are actually talking about? Where are they? Today, ?Greed is the new Mantra?.
6- What do you think is the root cause?
Basically I feel the reason is that with ever growing uncontrollable population, the demand outstrips the supply. People compromise on their core values. You must be aware that Anil Ambani was voted as the Youth Icon of the Year by a topmost media house for two consecutive years. What for? What has he done which is so commendable? So tell me, what kind of values are we trying to perpetuate by doing so?
Tatas seemed to an honest group, which was dedicated to the country and its people, but look at them now; they are badly embroiled in the Radia controversy. Every player, whether big or small, is involved in these dirty dealings. And I must tell you here that even our investigating agencies like CBI are also not ?doodh ka dhula?. It is a complete madhouse where everyone is involved!
Today, Anil Jain is Warren Buffets blue eyed man, why? Its not because Anil has done some humanitarian or charity work here in India, it is primarily because Anil gave Warren Buffet huge business and profits!! It is actually is very weird situation for India to be in. ?Logon ko chahiye ki jitna kha sakte hain utna hi khaayen, jitna pehan sakte hain utna hi pehane?. Today, everybody wants everything?
But the tragedy here is that no one ever thinks of the lowest level of our societal pyramid. Is there anyone one, who can honestly stand up and say, yes, I work honestly for the less privileged ones?
5- On 5th April, Social activist Anna Hazare will embark on an indefinite hunger strike in Delhi from April 5 demanding implementation of the Lok Janpal Bill and launch the "India Against Corruption" (IAC) movement. Will this help?
I hope something really good comes out of it, but I feel ?zada kuch haasil nahi hoga isse?. He will get limelight for few days, his cause will be on the headlines and after few days everybody will forget about it. Exactly, like the way we do it with all the scams. They grab headlines for few days and then, nothing happens.
Today, morality and family values have been truly replaced by gluttony and materialistic pleasures. With advancement of technology things are simply there on their finger tips. People should opt for pure knowledge, ?guru-shishya aur shiksha ki pratishtha honi chahiye?. Plus, cleansing has to be done at the basic as well as the top level of our society.
8- You sound too disturbed with the entire scenario.
No, I am not disturbed, I am concerned. I am certainly not saying that all the successful people in the country are corrupt, there are, but they are in endangered zone. India is growing economically, as they say, there are ample opportunities, BUT, these opportunities are only for a certain section, not for everyone. I reiterate, if we have to bring a positive change in our society we will have to pay serious attention to the lowest section of our society, the destitute and the downtrodden.
9- Lets talk about your upcoming movie Aarakashan, how does it feel to work with Amitabh Bachchan for the first time?
He is an institution in himself, a kind, generous, dedicated actor with a child like hunger for work. He is a passionate actor. There were certain scenes from the film which he was not satisfied and wanted to reshoot even though I found them flawless. On his insistence I had to give in and we did a reshoo, and I must tell you the end result was marvelous. So, he is that kind of an actor who believes in nothing but the best and that makes him the kind of person he is today, the Legend.
10- What is the exact purpose behind making Akarshan?
We try to highlight the issues concerning reservation in our society and also about the commercialization of education. You tell me there are so many educational institutes mushrooming in each and every city of the country but are they really imparting education in a true sense. The degrees are just the means to get better jobs; materialism has set in this noble profession. I have been doing research on this subject for a long time, it is an explosive issue but I have ensured that the film does not get embroiled in unnecessary controversy.
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