I was very curious about Film Bazaar
An extremely well-known personality in Indian cinema, Prakash Jha is renowned for his social-political dramas like Gangaajal, Apaharan, Raajneeti and many more. Along with being a Producer, Director, and Screenwriter Prakash Jha is also a Documentary filmmaker and has been honoured with the National Award for his documentaries like Faces after the Storm and Sonal. Here he talks about his movies and shares his thoughts on the ongoing Film Bazaar 2015.
What attracted you to Film Bazaar?
The curiosity to know about it and to interact with this new generation of filmmakers are the prime factors that attracted me to the Film Bazaar. Over the last 5-6 years I have seen the new kind of independent cinema, which has been thriving. Now there are so many sources of funding and so many sources through which a filmmaker is able to produce, exhibit, and market their films. Moreover, a couple of my films, which my company did not produce, have also come through labs. One of which called Lipstick Under My Burkha (directed by Alankrita Shrivastava) is at the Work-in-progress (WIP) Lab this year. I was very curious about Film Bazaar so when I got this invitation I took it up. Moreover, this year they have the Knowledge series where they will be talking about shooting in India and similar things and thought that I could give some valuable input into it. But it was my own curiosity as well, to be able to interact and understand how things are moving that ultimately drew me to the Film Bazaar.
Different organizations come up with various Labs. According to you, how important and useful are these Labs for young filmmakers?
If your idea can be improved and if you can add on to your creativity with the help of a mentor then that cannot be bad. Even when I write scripts I give it to several screenplay writers or my contemporaries to read and share their comments on them. This always benefits me, it is great to have someone review your work and give you feedback.
You have shot at various locations in India, how would you describe your experience?
I haven’t really shot at various locations. In fact I had primarily shot in Satara. I have shot four films in Satara, one after the other. I started shooting there in a very organized manner and helped set up an industry. Now, almost every single day some or the other shoot is happening there.
I always integrate the whole process of filmmaking with the local people. Apaharan was the last film I shot in Satara after which I was on the lookout for a bigger location and landscape for Raajneeti. That was when I chanced upon Bhopal where I then shot seven films. So, generally I don’t move from here to there, I set up a structure. A whole integration process has now happened in Bhopal. Moreover, in both these places we set up procedures for permissions and local administration, which is very responsive and the people were also very responsive. That is how it became easy to shoot in both these places.
Now, if you go to Satara they will tell you about our production as several films have been shot there. This is because now there is a proper infrastructure and a mindset that easily accepts a film shooting. So, more than the government I think it is the interaction with people that matters because they either let you work or they stop your work. That is why people are more important, if they understand that it is beneficial for them to contribute and collaborate, you will have a good day.
The people of Bhopal own my films. They feel pride and therefore will never disturb my shooting. It’s been seven films and more than seven years and not even seven minutes of my work have ever been affected in Bhopal. The people of Bhopal are amazing and I have had a good collaboration with them and that is how it actually should happen. I don’t believe in permissions, I don’t believe in windows nor do I believe in restrictions or censorship. If there are restricted areas where the general public cannot go then you should worry about only those areas otherwise film shooting is like any other work and that is irrespective of the location you are shooting at.
You have always been drawn towards movies that have a social message. What draws you to make such films?
It is simple; if a story is there, I will make a movie. I don’t get any sort of insights nor am I commissioned by the Gods to make such movies. If I find a story that I feel is worth telling and looking at, I will make it.
What was your process of casting characters for Jai Gangaajal?
Jai Gangaajal required a strong female protagonist and I was looking for somebody who would fit in the role. Priyanka Chopra and I have been talking about the film for some time and I thought she will fit the role perfectly and therefore, we worked out the dates.
-Transcribed by Aarti Sukhija