Prakash Jha is known for his films based on politics, corruption and Bihar. His films have always dealt with real issues executed with raw dialogues and realistic storytelling. His expertise is not a result of a dream that he pursued since childhood, but the passion he has for filmmaking.
He was just a student who came to Mumbai to become a painter. He quit his studies pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Science when he decided to become a painter and came to the city to try his luck enrolling himself in the J.J. School of Arts. It is then when he accidentally happened to catch the shoot of a movie and got hooked to filmmaking. It was just meant to be.
As we are aware, his films particularly deal with political and socio-political issues. However, there's one more that his movies have in common – Bihar. Nobody can match his contribution in making Bihar and Biharis "the" thing in Bollywood. It was him who initiated actually focusing on Bihar through his documentary based on Bihar Sharif Riots, which was titled Faces After Storm (1984).
What is most interesting is that while most of his films are based in Bihar, he has never shot a single film there. It is because of him that us, Bollywood lovers, are so well aware of the political scenario of the Eastern region of the country. So, on his 65th birthday, let's have a look at six movies that made everyone more aware about politics, Bihar and well, Biharis.
This is the film which got Prakash Jha recognition at an early stage of his career. This film dealt with the issue of bonded labor in Bihar, the colloquial term for which is bandhua majdoor. The story was based on Kaalsootra by Shaiwal, who was a native of Gaya district in Bihar. The essence of a village in Bihar, the dialect and language used gave the industry obsessed with Kapoors, newer avenues to explore. The film got him his first Filmfare and second National Award.
Starring Madhuri Dixit, this film commented on the social and gender discrimination and injustice in the state of Bihar. Set in the district of Bilaspur in 1996, this film also dealt with the social problems that plagued Jha's native state. The film won three Screen Cinema Awards, two Zee Cine Awards and two Sansui Film Awards among others.
After Damul and four National Awards, he made Gangaajal (which won him another National Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues) slightly hinting at the Bhagalpur Blinding incident. The film which is named after the holy water of Ganga surprisingly refers to acid in the movie. It is also known for using typical Bihari swear words unheard of in movies those days and the dialogue "Sab pavitar kar denge". The sequel to Gangaajal was made in 2016 starring Priyanka Chopra.
Apaharan, again set in Bihar threw light on the infamous kidnapping racket in the state. The dialogues of this movie were highly appreciated. The film was highly praised in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand and won the National Award for Best Screenplay.
Not exactly about Bihar but the film dealt with the political scenario of the country. The name literally means politics and contextually refers to political affairs. The film was a big multi-starrer with actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranbir Kapoor, Ajay Devgn among others. It is said to be tracing the characters of Mahabharata (Ranbir as Arjun, Nana Patekar as Krishna, Ajay Devgn as Karna, Manoj Bajpayee as Duryodhana etc.) but there were rumored controversies that alleged the characters of being similar to real political personalities.
One of the best things about Prakash Jha's movies is the titles and how exactly they speak of the movie in just one word. Aarakshan (reservation) deals with the cast-based reservation of government jobs and educational institutions. The film boasts of stellar performances by Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpayee, Saif Ali Khan and Prateik Babbar. However, it wasn't just about the performances but the powerful message you took with you after watching the movie.
Prakash Jha, with his art, has elevated a lot of issues that hit hard at the right places and we really hope to see more of such cinema. We wish him a very happy birthday and eagerly await for his next venture.
Do you also think you learnt a lot about Bihar through his films? Let us know in the comments below.