Posts Tagged ‘Raajneeti’

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.

Saif Ali Khan has managed to impress his Aarakshan director Prakash Jha immensely. So much so that the filmmaker can be heard singing praises about the man with whom he has worked for the first time.

‘What’s so special about this?’ One may exclaim, ‘After all every director is bound to appreciate his cast’. Well, what makes this appreciation special is the fact that this is the first time in a decade that Jha has directed a film that doesn’t feature his favourite actor Ajay Devgn. The fact that Saif replaced Ajay in the film post his fall-out with Jha after Raajneeti only makes the proceedings further interesting.

“It is a known fact that Jha and Devgn were an unbreakable team till Raajneeti happened. Their over one decade long association that started with Dil Kya Kare (1999) continued to reap fruits with Gangaajal (2003), Apaharan (2005) and Raajneeti (2010)”, a trade source comments, “It seemed like they would forever be working together but as there is nothing permanent in Bollywood, so was this association as well. Though none have gone on record to talk about the alleged split, it is widely believed that the tension erupted during Raajneeti owing to the length of Ajay’s role in the film.”

Though there were speculations making the rounds, momentary respite came in once Ajay was said to be working with Jha again in Aarakshan. However just when everything about the film was already set with the shoot about to begin, Ajay was said to have opted out of the film. Though it was being rumoured that Ajay took this decision as owing to his age he wasn’t comfortable playing a college student in some portions of the film, no official statement was made from either ends. Meanwhile Jha approached Saif as a quick replacement who was more than willing to oblige.

“Saif has excelled big time and has exceeded my expectations”, says Jha who also had another towering personality in the form of Amitabh Bachchan supporting him during every step of the film making, “He is playing a very simple character in the film. He plays someone who belongs to the backward class and studies hard in an endeavour to grow in life and reach the top of the ladder.”

To make Saif familiar with the film and it’s setting, Jha also held workshops. “We had sessions with the entire principal cast where we did rehearsals, read out lines and talked about the characters in general. Saif wasn’t the only one singled out.”

This is five years after his ‘Langda Tyagi’ act in Omkara that Saif Ali Khan is playing a rather serious character. With Jha known for extracting award winning performances from his actors, one now looks forward to whether Saif manages to repeat the feat as well, hence kick starting a new association with Jha which was once reserved only for Ajay.