“Right from AKS, I would never do a film that didn’t express my thoughts, ideas and ideology. It is important for me to take my own conscience very seriously, while making my films.”
Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra released his first film AKS, a dark stylized film in the wake of the glossy top grossing Karan Johar film KABHI KHUSHI KABHI GHAM. The film failed to woo the audience or the box office though it did garner a lot of critical acclaim. The film was to be a game changer. The formulaic good winning over evil was forsaken in favour of the more realistic ideology ‘Bhala bura hai’ and ‘Bura bhala hai’, where the hero was not all virtuous nor the villain all vice. It pointed at the reality of the coexistence of good and evil within each of us.
DELHI 6 was spurred by this same ideology and spoke of the ‘Kala Bandar’ within us which wreaks havoc. It appealed to every Indian to fight this devil within so as to keep the secularity of India intact. The film and its ideology was beginning to be accepted but commercial success still eluded it.
Patriotic without being preachy, that was Rakeysh’s hallmark and RANG DE BASANTI with its strong nationalism brought it to the fore, making it cool for Generation X to be Indian and proud of it. The year 2006 which saw the release of the film was revolutionary. It saw the rise of a public conscience and created a widespread stir in the country. Rakeysh’s conscience had roused the conscience of a nation!
And then there was the epoch making epic BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG. “I wanted not to tell the story of the athlete but the man behind the athlete, the person, the idea of Milkha Singh. The triumph of the human spirit, howsoever clichéd it might sound… In spirit I find the Partition and the Holocaust to be similar. The biggest sufferers in these blood-baths are children.”
Somewhere in Milkha Singh’s story and its theme of suffering during the Partition, the film connected with the entire global community and that’s probably why sprinter Carl Lewis reached out to Singh after watching the film.
The conviction of his conscience found resonance in audiences in the country and abroad making Rakeysh an international icon. Redoubling his faith in himself and his beliefs Rakeysh says, “I’ll make films only on my terms.”