Filmmaker Prakash Jha says he has always been inspired to make relevant films that are born out of real-life issues.
Jha, who has explored sociopolitical topics through movies like “Damul”, “Mrityudand”, “Gangaajal”, “Apharan”, Pareeksha, has had a finger on the pulse of the society for quite some time.
“There will always be people who will be making films which deal with society and real life. I walk with time, I see what is happening around. I have always been guided by a subject to make a film. The subject I deal with in terms of story happens to be from real life,” Jha told PTI in an interview.
“I make the characters interesting and that’s the challenge. The fact that actors from commercial cinema were happy to work with me was good fortune,” he added.
Citing examples of classics like “Do Bigha Zameen” and “Mother India”, the director said films set against a socioeconomic backdrop have often received favourable response from the audience.
“If the story engages the audience, it will work. There is a discerning audience who is ready to see all kinds of cinema,” he added.
His latest work, web series “Aashram” explores the blind faith of masses in a ‘godman’, played by actor Bobby Deol. It is currently streaming on MX Player.
Jha believes blind faith is prevalent across the world – be it India, the US or Europe.
“This project started with an elaborated story which the platform brought to me. I found it interesting. I saw a nexus here. Even the common man needs them (godmen). In the process of trying to unload their misery, they need somebody.
“Unfortunately, they don’t have the time, means and perseverance to go to the right people so they find a quack who doesn’t know anything. These are criminal-minded people who masquerade as babas and people fall for them.”
Bollywood has tapped into the space of blind faith with films like “Oh My God” and “PK”, but the director said “Aashram” is different in its treatment.
Deol plays Baba Nirala, a soft-spoken leader of a cult that focuses on upliftment of the downtrodden and how he misuses religion for his personal needs.
“The babas in ‘PK’ or ‘Oh My God’ have been treated as caricatures. In this series, the godman has created a double personality. He is somebody who kills, rapes, lies, and steals but does it with conviction. There is no particular reference,” he said.