Prakash Jha, Saif Ali Khan
Prakash Jha, Saif Ali Khan

National award-winning director Prakash Jha isn’t sure whether his film Aarakhsan about caste-based reservations in educational institutions would be able to throw up any permanent solution to the problem, but he is sure that it would have therapeutic value.

“If through a wider and keener understanding, some kind of solution comes out of it, then we will take the pride in that. We have tried to assimilate every kind of feeling. We have tried to understand the equation that works in a fast-paced society,” Jha told IANS in an interview.

“We have tried to tell a story which is kind of therapeutic because it is intended to heal. If it can somehow give everybody his or her solution… but we have not tried to preach through the film,” said Jha.

Aarakshan is a high voltage socio-political drama featuring Saif Ali Khan, megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Bajpai, Deepika Padukone, Pratieik Babbar and Tanvi Azmi, who play pivotal roles in the film. It is set to hit the theatres Aug 12.

You can call it a social or an issue-based film

“I don’t think the film supports, contradicts or supplements any ideology. So, probably it won’t fall into the category of politics. As education has the same value for everyone, you can call it a social or an issue-based film. It’s very contemporary as every family is concerned about the education and job their child will get,” said Jha.

An inclusive society with equal economic affluence would be able to minimize or remove the need for reservations, Jha believes. “It’s difficult to eradicate it from our society – gender bias or caste are two paramount problems of our society and not easy to handle. What we can try to do is to make a more equitable society. To remove this bias, there has to be inclusive growth,” said the 59-year-old.

He is in awe at the way Saif Ali Khan played a Dalit in “Aarakshan” and believes that the industry has failed to exploit his potential as an actor.

Saif is a fantastic actor but underrated in the industry.

“Saif is a fantastic actor but underrated in the industry. You can’t imagine what he can do. It was not easy to play a Dalit. He worked very hard on their language and mannerisms. I didn’t add anything except a moustache in his look and that also he grew. He portrayed the role so convincingly,” said Jha.

Saif playing a Dalit agitated some groups of socially backward classes, but Jha mollified them. “I have politely given them my explanation. I hope I could satisfy them. I can’t change the fact that Saif Ali Khan being a nawab has played the role of a Dalit. I have told them that the kind of discrimination you have suffered so long, the same discrimination you want to do with Saif, which is not right,” he said.

The filmmaker, who had unsuccessful stints in politics in the 2004 and 2009 parliamentary elections, has mostly made issue-based films like Damul (1986), Gangaajal (2004), Apaharan (2006) and Raajneeti (2010).

“I always try to be careful of what I am doing in terms of product and acceptance. I always keep myself alert so that my narrative can communicate an engaging story with characters with whom audiences could relate to. This is the constant battle that I have and keep hoping that these stories will work. Fortunately they have worked,” said Jha.

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