It is and has always been a reminder to the rest of the world that Indian politics – seen here as the fast track to wealth – is a no-holds-barred affair. The problems are many. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of corruption that has carried over since the days of the British Raj and beyond. But then again we question ourselves – What is politics? It’s the question which has no answer because it was never a question. Politics has become a part of our daily life. It has infiltrated our minds to such an extent that anything we do or have done seems all politically correct because the two pillars of political correctness are: Intractable ignorance and a steadfast refusal to face the truth. So what is politics then, I repeat. The answer is loud and clear: It is ‘Money’ which is soon followed by ‘Power’, then ‘Corruption’. It’s all that we need to stay alive today. But as the famous Will Rogers quotes, “Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.” UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent presents you a special two part conversation with the man behind an epic called Raajneeti, a politician who isn’t actively involved in politics, but is more active and awake than any other politician – Prakash Jha, the director who is going to take us on a journey where love, passion, power, corruption and betrayal is what it takes to become a true politician. Humane, isn’t it?
Politics – A part of us
It is a natural part of any man’s life. Throughout the day, the month, the year, the life, you’re constantly negotiating. You create choices and pick up what is good for you, and in that, the consideration for others are always sidelined. That is how I am dealing with politics or you may say, Raajneeti, in my film. I am not going into the intricacies of democracy which I think is quite a farce. In our country, once you have pressed the button of the EVM, democracy ceases to operate. I consider the relationship between a husband and wife & father and child political.
The media has been constantly saying that Raajneeti characters are inspired from the Mahabharata. I’d say ‘No’
Mahabharata – The old politics
The media has been constantly saying that Raajneeti characters are inspired from the Mahabharata. I’d say ‘No’. It’s not us choosing the characters; it is the characters from the Mahabharata that chose us. When the first draft of the story in 2004 was ready, the idea was to try and understand the equations of democracy and share it in a fictional form. But when I started working on the characters, I realised that knowingly or unknowingly, the characters were gearing towards the characteristics of the Mahabharata characters. Then Anjum and I created a family and created a drama, just like the Mahabharata family. And the aim is the same – to gain power…but the question asked is – at what cost? Which is what the epic Mahabharata was all about. It’s only in the end that you realise that the victory has made you lose everything.
Raajneeti – The awakening
We are not intending to make a direct message oriented film. No. We have created a drama and eventually, there is a scene in the film where one of the protagonist, who has been forced to play politics and who later plays the darkest politics begs forgiveness from everybody he has hurt. Some do forgive, some do not and eventually he is the one who gives out a message – ‘This is not politics. This is not what I intended to do.’ But that apart, there are several issues that are beyond this film. Today I ask the question, “What have we achieved?” not only India but the rest of the world. You have such super powers like Russia turning democratic from the socialists. But what kind of democracy is this where Putin manipulates himself to become the P.M. In every which manner, it is the power and persistence to rule and your desire to be above all that makes a profession called politics.
Prakash Jha – A political player
I would like to clarify that I’ve never been an active political player. I’ve never been on a platform for any political party. I’ve never shared a platform of any political ideology. I’ve never spoken for or against any political party too. For me, politics means development, and that immediately translates into economic welfare. If you educate people, you need to create jobs for them. If you make roads, you need to create industries and businesses to gain revenue. If you make public investments, you have to make sure there is also a private investment happening. The wealth generation has to reciprocate the investment which is made. We take money from public and filter our own profits. Such is the cycle of corruption. If you look at a constituency in Bihar today, and you go ten kilometres from the district, you’re back into the last century. There is not a single hospital in the entire North Bihar which can save the lives of the people. My NGOs and I have actively been investing and trying for the past seven years to create industries, health care centres and run hospitals. In fact, we have set up the first mega multiplex in Bihar which is to be commissioned in July.
Nothing can go beyond the script, not even the performance
Strong performers and performances
Nothing can go beyond the script, not even the performance. The narrative is the power of the script. When you look at Arjun from Mahabharata, you never see him shouting, showing off, etc. He is very subtle and calm. Arjun is not like Bheem. Whereas, Bheem is in your face, aggressive and will take his ‘gada’ (the weapon he uses). Similarly, Duryodhan. Now if you look at it from Duryodhan’s point of view, you do feel that he was denied his heritance. Mahabharata is a marvellous piece of work which has created every possible situation, incident, character, characteristics, etc. Look at them. Krishna, Karna, etc. What an epic!
There are very interesting dialogues in Raajneeti. They had to be strong yet understood and yet political in nature. There is a scene in the film between Ajay Devgn (Karna) and Nana Patekar (Krishna) which is edited out of the film but I’ll tell you anyway. Nana manoeuvres and manipulates Ajay’s candidature from Azad Nagar. Very sarcastically, Ajay says, “Aap ne jo faisla liya hain, bilkul sahi liya hain.” (What decisions you’ve taken are right) Nana replies to Ajay by saying, “Raajneeti mein faisle sahi ya galat nahin hote. Unka mol hai sirf maksad pane ka.” (In politics, there is nothing as right or wrong. Politics is a way to achieve whatever however) There is also a dialogue from Ajay Devgn when he addresses one of the old aged guys, “Lok Tantra ka matlab yahi hota hai ki aap ko azaadi hoti hai ki aap apne upar attyachar karne wale ko khud apni marzi se chun sake.” (Democracy means that you have the right to choose the corrupt politicians)