Bollywood superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, and Akshay Kumar earlier this year came under fire for endorsing a pan masala brand. Several netizens criticised the superstars for promoting ‘gutka’ brands as they are known to contain ingredients that cause cancer. Now, filmmaker Prakash Jha opened up on the row.
Jha is one of the well-known filmmakers in the Hindi film industry. He is known for helming socio-political films like Damul, Mrityudand, Gangaajal, and Apaharan, including multi-starrer movies like Raajneeti, Aarakshan Chakravyuh, and Satyagraha, Dirty Politics.
During a conversation with ETimes, Prakash Jha was asked whether film stars don’t own up to their films, the director said, “There are 5-6 actors. Look at the condition of these actors. Why will they work in my films when they get ₹50 crores for doing one gutkha advertisement? The actors are selling gutkha. Can you imagine? What are these top, legendary actors doing? We had gone to a school for location scouting. The principal of the school asked me what are you guys doing in the Mumbai film industry? The boys in our school are caught chewing gutkha. Roam around the north through Lucknow, Prayagraj, and Mugalsarai, there are big hoardings put up where all our big stars are selling all types of gutkhas (tobaccos) and paan masalas.”
The filmmaker further spoke about the prevailing star system in Bollywood. Prakash Jha said, “What do we do about the system? Unless and until we don’t correct our filmmaking process. The filmmaking process doesn’t start with money, it starts with the subject. It starts with the passion of making cinema. It can’t start with the 500-crore funding that you have got, so you can make anything. That’s what is happening…I have not sat idle even for a day. I have been producing content constantly. I haven’t made a film with a big star in a while, but I have made other stuff. That’s fine, I’m happy about it. When stars take time out from selling gutkhas and want to focus on content, they will come to me automatically.”
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