Friday, December 03, 2021

Happy Birthday Prakash Jha: Is he Bollywood’s most controversial filmmaker?

Happy Birthday Prakash Jha: Almost every film Prakash Jha produces or directs, either faces censorship trouble or invites the anger of social groups.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
Updated: June 18, 2020 3:02:37 pm
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Lipstick Under My Burkha is under fire due to some weird and shocking reasons. The CBFC under the chairmanship of Pahlaj Nihalani might have given rather strange reasons for not issuing the film a certificate, this isn’t the first time Prakash Jha is facing the wrath of the censor board. The producer of the film has had his brush with controversies more often than expected. But like always, the ace filmmaker has fought all odds for his films even if it meant taking a strong stand. We really hope Lipstick Under My Burkha comes out clean. But we aren’t here to talk about the movie. It is in fact about Prakash Jha and his courage to keep bringing bold subjects on the silver screen, despite all the challenges.

Watch | CBFC Denies Certification To ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ For Being ‘Lady Oriented’

 

Prakah Jha, who turns 65 today, is only turning wiser with age. No points for guessing, that his maturity always surfaces in his films too, but to call him one of the most intelligent filmmakers in the country won’t be wrong. Why not, after all, he is a recipient of eight National Awards, in various categories of both fiction and non-fiction cinema. Let’s recall all the times his films got embroiled in controversies, sometimes with the CBFC, other times with certain groups, yet managed to emerge clear winners at the box office.

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Jai Gangaajal

Prakash Jha’s last film Jai Gangaajal, starring Priyanka Chopra, made news as PeeCee had a Bollywood release after a long time and amid her stint with Quantico. While her fans were happy to see her in a woman-centric plot, the film underwent friction at the censor tables. To begin with, the CBFC had an issue with the use of word ‘saala’ in the film, and demanded beeping it in all the places. Of course, it was one of the terms in Pahlaj Nihalani’s infamous cuss list. Even ‘ghanta’ looked objectionable to the board. The Revising Committee asked for 11 cuts to issue a UA certificate, which if applied throughout the film would add up to 50-odd cuts, thus changing its very structure. Jha had no option but to accept the certificate.The film got appreciation for some powerful performances and even got tax exemption in Madhya Pradesh.

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Satyagraha

Jha’s 2012 film faced trouble right at the shooting stage. A local social action group in Bhopal objected to the laying of a tar road and construction of a makeshift market at the historic 19th century Benazir Palace, the location of Satyagraha. The issue even got highlighted with the National Monuments Authority. The film even went to the Bombay High Court with regard to its title. The makers fought all odds and released the film.

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Chakravyuh

It seems everything Prakash Jha touches becomes controversial. And the one with Chakravyuh was rather off the radar. It was regarding a song which included words ‘Tata Birla Bata.’ If you thought Jolly LLB 2 was the first time the shoe brand Bata had an issue, well no, as it had issues even during Chakravyuh. A petition was filed by the company alleging the song was defamatory and projected its name in bad light. The Supreme Court ultimately allowed the film’s release but demanded a disclaimer that would go onscreen during the airing of the particular song. Even a complaint by corporate giant Birla ended with the Calcutta High Court asking for a disclaimer.

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Aarakshan

Prakash Jha dared to make a film on one of the nation’s most controversial subjects of caste-based reservation in educational institutions. First, it didn’t go down well with the Dalits even before the film could release, who termed it anti-Dalits. They basically had an issue with the character of actor Saif Ali Khan, who portrayed a Dalit student leader. Then Rajasthan’s Karni Sena thought the film showed the upper class in poor light. Rings a bell about Padmavati?

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Yeh Saali Zindagi

Prakash Jha’s production might have grabbed eyeballs for the countless onscreen kisses between actors Arunoday Singh and Aditi Rao Hydari, but it was a real life kiss by Arunoday that invited trouble. The cast of the film, while promoting it at Pune’s Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, found itself under fire when the actor kissed a student on the stage. This miffed the college authorities, and ultimately director Sudhir Mishra had to tender an apology.

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Raajneeti

This one faced many controversies. Apart from Nana Patekar backing out from the film’s shooting and a writer alleging that it was a script similar to his, the major chunk of trouble came when some Congress members held that Katrina Kaif’s part in the film was based on Sonia Gandhi. Of course the look and body language of Kat did remind us of the Congress supremo. The film managed a UA certificate only after Jha had to cut down the lovemaking scene between Kat and Arjun Rampal, and beeping and deleting several cuss words.

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Gangaajal

Though this one did not face a tough fight, but the mention of Sadhu Yadav’s name in the film did spark protests in Patna. The film, based on Bhagalpur blindings, left Sadhu Yadav’s supporters protesting. Sadhu Yadav alias Anirudh Prasad is the brother of Bihar’s former Chief Minister Rabri Devi.

Also read | Lipstick Under My Burkha denied certification: I do not feel targeted by the Censor Board, says Prakash Jha

Ironically, Prakash Jha’s film as we go back in time have invited much less trouble than what is happening now. Does that mean that the filmmaker has become bolder in picking scripts or the viewers and censor board have become much more intolerant? Whatever be it, we applaud the courage of Prakash Jha for always standing strong for his films and still delivering both critical and commercial hits.

Here’s wishing Prakash Jha a very happy birthday!

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