After exploring the dark underbelly of the political world, filmmaker Prakash Jha returns with yet another realistic film based on the sensitive issue of caste-based reservations – “Aarakshan” – releasing Friday.
Directed by Jha and co-produced by Prakash Jha Productions and Firoz A. Nadiadwala, the film is a socio-political drama based on one of the most controversial policies of caste-based reservations in government jobs and educational institutions.
The film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpayee, Deepika Padukone and Prateik and was shot in 55 days in Bhopal.
Set in the backdrop of Bhopal, “Aarakshan” is about Prabhakar Anand (Amitabh), an idealistic principal of a college that is considered to be the state’s best educational institution.
Prabhakar has a loyal student Deepak Kumar (Saif), who can do anything for him. He’s in love with Prabhakar’s daughter Poorbi (Deepika) and has a best friend Sushant (Prateik).
Revolving around the controversial issue of Supreme Court’s order on reservation, the film is the story of the youngsters’ love, their friendship, their zest for life and of their dreams for the future.
After the court’s ruling in the film, the story takes a roller-coaster ride of high drama, conflict and rebellion which tests the youngsters’ love and friendship for one another and their loyalty towards Prabhakar.
Although the film deals with a sensitive issue, Jha doesn’t aim to provide a permanent solution for it. He admits that the film has a therapeutic value.
After using the tune of national song “Vande mataram” in a song in his political thriller “Raajneeti”, Jha has used the rhythm of Gujarati hymn “Vaishnav jan to” in “Aarakshan” to enhance its patriotic feel.
Even before its release, the film has found itself in the middle of controversies. While some believe that the film is anti-Dalit, others feel it might create unrest because of the issue it deals with.
Jha’s office and house were Saturday attacked by political activists of the Republican Party of India (RPI) who wanted to obstruct the release of his film.
The National Commission of Scheduled Castes (NCSC) sought to see “Aarakshan” even before the Censor Board watched it as they felt the film should not affect their sentiments.
Civic authorities in Bhopal had also bulldozed the sets of the film because it was erected on disputed land and upset the shooting schedule.The demolished set that spread over an acre and a half of land included a bungalow that belonged to the character played by Amitabh in the film as well as parts of a stable where informal schools were set up.