'Subhashji narrated the story idea'
Prakash Jha and art films. Acceptable partnership.
Mukta Arts and mass films. Acceptable marriage.
But Prakash Jha and Mukta Arts?
Impossible union after the debacle called Dil Kya Kare!
Think again. For, Jha has not only completed Mukta Arts' presentation, Rahul, but has also started on the next presentation, Gangajal.
Over to producer-director Prakash Jha:
How did Subhash Ghai get involved with a maker of 'class' films like you?
Subhashji and I were having a casual conversation one day. In the midst of it, Subhashji narrated a story idea. It was a lovely idea for a film.
I told Subhashji that I would love to make a film based on his story idea but in a compact manner, that is, in one schedule. So we decided to make it together. That's how he got involved in the making of Rahul.
Did Ghai get involved in the screenplay and dialogue writing too?
I have a writing team comprising Farhan and Anuradha Tiwari. Subhashji did make some contributions. I was also working on it. And within a few months, the writing part was over.
What was it that made you fall in love with Ghai's story idea?
I liked the human element of the story: the world from the point of view of a four-and-a-half year-old kid.
What commercial ingredients have you incorporated in the story?
The story itself is the most commercial ingredient...
But besides the story, the music by Anu Malik is really good. The film's subject had a lot of scope for music.
Ghai is known for extracting great music from his music directors. Did you also involve yourself in the film's music?
Subhashji was totally involved in the music..... Since the film is presented by him, it is his baby as much as mine.
Was Ghai satisfied with the final script?
Yes, of course. Only after we were satisfied with the script did we take it on the floors. And we completed the entire shooting in one schedule of 42 days - in Mahabaleshwar and Panchagani.
When one thinks of Prakash Jha, he is bracketed with the likes of those making films for national awards. Filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani...
I don't like to be bracketed with anyone. I have made films of all kinds, like Mrityudand, Dil Kya Kare and, now Rahul. My next is Gangajal and people are bound to compare it with Mrityudand.
What is Gangajal about?
It is a hard-hitting social subject. It is about the conflict faced by the common man in today's society.
So, which do you consider your best film so far?
It is difficult to say because I have made all my films with equal conviction and dedication.
Mrityudand was a fulfilling experience for me. I would also say so about Hip Hip Hurray and Damul, which won the national award for the best feature film. And then there was Parineeti, which won the Swarn Kamal for me.
Do you think that your film will be a commercial success?
Why not? I am confident about Rahul fulfilling my ambition. It will be a grand commercial success.
Will you be taking tips from Ghai to make Gangajal a commercial film?
No, Gangajal is my subject and I have already worked it out.... (Pauses) You see, when something works, it works. The collaboration of two brains does not guarantee a hit project. Like I said, it works sometimes, not always.
Have you analysed the failure of Dil Kya Kare?
It is again a matter of conviction. When we started the film, everyone concerned with the film thought it to be a novel subject. But when it did not work, some said that Mahima should have done Kajol's role and vice versa. Some people blamed it on the train episode.
Do you feel lucky that despite your leanings towards 'class' films, you've been backed by big banners like Ajay Devgan and Mukta Arts?
I am honoured that these banners considered me worthy of some ability - whether it is the technical excellence or my directorial touches.
But it is not for nothing that I have won four national awards for my documentaries, 2 national awards for my films, Damul and Parineeti, besides international awards.
How was the selection of a kid to play Rahul done?
Oh, that was a laborious task.
We went through hundreds of photographs from all over the country. Out of them, we shortlisted 170. And out of them, we selected 20 and held a workshop where we interviewed all of them before finalising five kids.
The choice then fell on two out of which we finally selected Yash Pathak.
We hear that the script is an inspiration from a foreign film.
No, not at all! Rahul is not inspired from any past film, whether Indian or foreign.
What do you look for in a story?
A good story should be complete in itself. It should comprise a proper beginning, an intriguing middle and an interesting end. Even a highly commercial film like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge had a good story to tell the audience.
You've been a student of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. Did the institute help you?
I only did the editing course at the FTII. It was a two year course but I left it much before completing it.
So, you wanted to become an editor?
No, while doing my course in editing, I got the offer of making a documentary on Goa. And thereafter, I have made documentaries on various subjects including national issues and tourism. I must have made 42 documentary films till date.
Even today, I continue making documentary films. As of now, I am making a documentary on the famed classical dancer, Sonal Mansingh, for Films Division.