Prakash Jha talks about working with Saif Ali Khan in Aarakshan

Posted: July 28, 2011 in Aarakshan, Bollywood, Deepika Padukone, Saif Ali Khan
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Extract from an interview with Prakash Jha..

Q: You often repeat your actors, so why is Ajay Devgan not cast in this film and Saif is playing a Dalit ?

A: It is not always possible to work with the same talent. I would have loved to work with Ajay but when we set up the film, he wasn’t available. But, quite honestly, it was more exciting working with Saif who plays a Dalit. He really got into the skin of the character, but more interestingly, casting him was to move away from the stereotypical representation of Dalits as dark – caste has nothing to do with skin colour. He has done a fabulous job. What is remarkable about his character in Aarakshan is that he has no crutch unlike Langda Tyagi in Omkara where there was make-up and the body language to support him.

Q : Would it be accurate to say that you have moved on from actors to stars for essaying roles in your films?

A : When you add stars, a realistic, hard-hitting story becomes more exciting. I made a film with a non-star cast but the economics of the business did not support it.

Q: Women in your films on the other hand, exist on the periphery, seldom having an equity in the balance of power…

A: That’s not entirely true. Deepika and Tanvi Azmi are very central to Aarakshan. In Mrityudand, too, the women characters took the lead.

Q : And what of the male protagonists in Aarakshan?

A: The story is about the journey of Mr Bachchan and Saif. It is like a father-son relationship that breaks because of principles, expectations and misunderstanding. It is a very personal journey. Raajneeti, on the other hand, was an extensive kaleidoscope –– each with their own journey.

Q : What is it like to work with so many actors and across different generations in both Raajneeti and Aarakshan?

I have always worked with actors, months in advance, so we know each other’s expectations well. And it helps that all of them are as hungry–– Saif, Deepika, Mr Bachchan and Prateik –– and to challenge them, to motivate them was exciting.

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