A propaganda film will work if the story works: Prakash Jha

New Delhi: “The Accidental Prime Minister” and “Uri – The Surgical Strike”, which have begun Bollywood’s 2019 calendar, have been branded “propaganda films” by a cross-section of people. Filmmaker Prakash Jha, who has dabbled in politics himself, says propaganda films can work only if the story strikes a chord with the audience.

The pre-election release of both the films triggered a debate on political propaganda via showbiz. Jha, who has made films like “Gangaajal”, “Apaharan”, “Raajneeti”, “Aarakshan” and “Satyagraha” — which have delved upon socio-political issues, told IANS in an interview here: “You can have a propaganda film. It will work if the story is working and if the story is working, then it is a valid film… why not?” Still, there has been a dearth of political films in Bollywood.He says he has “no idea” why. “But I feel there is politics in everything… There’s politics in a husband-wife relationship, at homes, in the society, school, institutions and offices… There is politics everywhere.” And in politics, the 66-year-old finds a lot of “comedy”.

About his own films, he said: “My films primarily deal with issues which deal with our day-to-day affairs and they have social and political connotation. But I don’t really make political films… that is my subject, that is my story. There is a lot of comedy in politics.” Jha was here to promote his next production “Fraud Saiyyan”, a comedy starring Arshad Warsi and Saurabh Shukhla. Is he changing gears? “Before ‘Rajneeti’, ‘Aarakshan’ and ‘Apaharan’, I made ‘Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne’ (show). And if you see those darker films, there is a lot of comedy in them… Life cannot be without laughter. Sometimes it is helpless laughter or enjoyable laughter. But there is laughter.” Jha described “Fraud Saiyyan” as a heartland story with characters that are very real.

“When actors like Saurabh Shukla and Arshad Warsi came on board, it became an interesting project,” added the filmmaker, who recently acted in a short film titled “Justajoo”. As he wears multiple hats, does he find work as a producer daunting? “Everything (acting, directing and producing) is enjoyable. If I don’t enjoy something, there is no point in doing it. So, acting also is enjoyable… It is to be able to find one more form of expression which you can work on, so I really find it enjoyable. I am doing films, I did short films and I will soon be acting in another film,” she added. Jha has several ventures in the pipeline. He is also working on a biopic of Indian mathematician Vashishtha Narayan Singh.= He says the biopic in still in the initial stage.

“I think it is still very preliminary. The research is happening… The script and story. I know the basic story because he is from Bihar and we have often talked about him. But (it is) still preliminary.” Singh was born in 1942 in Basantpur village in Bhojpur district of Bihar and received a PhD on Reproducing Kernels and Operators with a Cyclic Vector from the University of California-Berkeley in 1969.

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