Links: Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha and Gyan Correa’s The Good Road

Shamji Dhana Kerasia, the real truck driver who plays a truck driver in The Good Road.
Shamji Dhana Kerasia, the real truck driver who plays a truck driver in The Good Road.

So here’s what’s interesting about these two films. Both the directors insist that their films have nothing to do with real life politics. Except it’s difficult to imagine a realistic story set in Gujarat that doesn’t have any imprint upon it of the riots of 2002 and their aftermath. Just as it’s difficult to watch the trailer of Satyagraha and not think of the fasts that Anna Hazare took to save us from all sorts of, er, stuff. But when the film is as yet unreleased, take the director’s word for it. Or at the very least, let the director have his say. That’s my motto.

Gyan Correa and The Good Road:

Director Gyan Correa is easy to talk to, particularly if you want to hear about his first film,The Good Road, which won the National Award for best Gujarati film earlier this year. Unless you bring up words like ‘politics’ or ‘progress’ or, worse, mention Gujarat’s chief minister. “None of this has anything to do with the story I’m telling,” he said exasperatedly. “But it’s like the media wants to drag Ishrat Jahan, Narendra Modi into every conversation. My film isn’t a comment on any of that. It’s a film inspired by and about Kutch, that’s it.”

Kutch in Western Gujarat is India’s largest district. The region and its culture have fascinated Correa for years. “Kutch is a mini India,” said Correa. “It’s staggering the kind of cultural diversity that’s in there, and the peace. The caste and social dynamic works very differently in Kutch. There is huge segregation, but there is very little discrimination and there’s a respect between communities. India might burn, Gujarat might burn, but Kutch won’t.”

Prakash Jha and Satyagraha:

Jha said his chief inspiration for Satyagraha were the popular protests that have seen thousands of everyday citizens take to the streets for issues they feel are important. He agreed that the idea of taking to the streets may have once come from Hazare, but argued that this was no longer the case. “Hazare had his movement but the politics of it have clearly not worked out,” said Jha. “Where is his following now? What is encouraging today is the awareness among the young population. Today theirs is not a movement instigated by any political party or figure. They’re out on the streets, they’re demanding the system functions.”

Satyagraha stars Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Arjun Rampal and Kareena Kapoor. Bachchan is the idealistic leader and a father figure to the younger people who are inspired by him. Jha describes the film as a father-son relationship in which the father and son have opposing ideologies that must be reconciled. “It’s the attitude of giving back to society versus that of capitalising on opportunities, of being humanitarian versus seeing greed as an incentive,” he said. Rampal plays a “rabble rouser”. “He’s a small town character who is ready to fight, who has dreams,” said Jha. “Ajay [Devgn] plays a character who is an industrialist, a today’s man.”

And with that, praise the lord, the blog is up to date. Over and out.

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