National Award-winning filmmaker Prakash Jha on his debut series Aashram
Free-spirited and fiercely independent, Prakash Jha’s movies have a magic about them. The gripping sociopolitical dramas hit you in the solar plexus and at the same time manage to have a successful run at the box office. With a repeat value, you won’t forget this multiple National Award-winning filmmaker’s movies in a hurry — they keep growing on you.
With his debut web series Aashram, (that released on MX Player last week) he has once again spun that magic with a wide panoply of power play, politics, caste, corruption and has skilfully managed to weave in the overarching influence of religion and godmen over the clueless believers comprising a formidable vote bank. As the audience can’t stop raving about Aashram, we had a chat with Jha on what keeps him going. Excerpts:
What made you direct a series like Aashram?
The platform (MX Player) brought a very well-developed and extensively written idea, and I found it very interesting since it had all the equations of a gripping and intriguing plot. It dealt vividly with how the protagonists get trapped in a web and how the whole mechanism of powerplay, politics and religion works. It appealed to me as a plot and was exciting to see the characters unfold.
Almost all your big movies have stars in them but they never overpower the plots. How do you manage that?
It’s simple, I don’t talk about the stars in the film, I try to tell the story and when the story and characters become interesting and engaging, everything else becomes a part of it.
This is also true for Aashram with Bobby Deol looking every bit Baba Nirala…
Yes, when I heard of the character of Baba, I thought about him and Bobby kept growing on me as Baba Nirala. It’s amazing, the experience that he brings to the table. He is so willing to work hard on himself. So were all the other actors including Chandan Roy Sanyal, Anupriya Goenka, Aaditi Pohankar, Tushar Pandey, Vikram Kochhar or Adhyayan Suman.
How was your experience of making a web series?
Well, the best thing is you get an opportunity to develop each character and every possible angle of the story and turn it huge and intense. We shot almost for four months and now looking forward to the second season.
You are a very disciplined person in real life, what’s the secret of your fitness?
I enjoy life and living, as simple as that. I don’t follow any strict diet. I sleep at the right time and wake up early and enjoy my work. I gym every day and I am a vegetarian and don’t overeat.
Your last film Pareeksha discusses the right to good education for all. How do you find the new Education Policy in that context?
The new Education Policy is a step in the right direction investing in education and on teachers’ training, which I keep talking about. A teacher’s job should be one of the highest-paid and most respected ones to attract the best minds into this profession for a better society in future.
What are the other projects you are working on?
I am acting in one film, which is currently ready for festival rounds and will start shooting two other films early next year. The second season of Aashram is also on cards.