Ravi Kumar's film Bhopal A Prayer For Rain on the Bhopal gas tragedy was shown in Bhopal on December 3, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the industrial disaster that devastated Bhopal in 1984.
The film opened up many raw wounds.
Says Rajpal Yadav, "There was not a dry eye in the audience. People in Bhopal have not forgotten the disaster that struck their town, and that's good thing."
The chief minister of Madhya Pradesh was present at the screening and he declared a tax exemption on the spot.
At the moment efforts are on to get the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to watch the film. Says Rajpal, "We had hoped to make an impact with the film. But the impact has far exceeded our expectations. I remember when Ravi Kumar (the director) had come to me with the role I immediately said yes."
Rajpal saw the film as being a warning for all poor countries. "I saw Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain as a cautionary tale not only about the Bhopal tragedy. But catastrophe anywhere that strikes the poor. Every day we hear of building collapse or people dying of wrong medication. Recently so many poor women died after undergoing surgery. On Friday I woke up to news of 20 people losing their eyesight in Punjab."
Rajpal feels it is always the poor who suffer loss, death and pain. "It's people like my character Dilip, the rickshaw-wallah in Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, who gets the brunt of the suffering."
Critics in the West have compared Rajpal to Charlie Chaplin. The best compliment that Rajpal received for the film came from a couple who after seeing the film wanted to know if the rickshaw puller and his wife played by Rajpal and Tannishtha Chatterjee were real people picked up from the streets of Bhopal.
Says Rajpal, "It's been a long hard struggle for us to make this film. There came a time when it seemed impossible to complete the film. We kept fighting against all odds because we knew we had something very important to say."
Oliver Stone, no less, was supposed to make a film on the Bhopal gas tragedy. Stone's film was started with Jeremy Irons in the lead, but got shelved.
Sighs Rajpal, "Every film has its own destiny. I am glad I've made my international debut with a film that doesn't cast me as a caricatural Indian. My character Dilip is as real as it gets."
More Pages: Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain Box Office Collection , Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain Movie Review
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