'Maoist conflict is moving from the jungles to the industrial hub'

'Maoist conflict is moving from the jungles to the industrial hub'

'Maoist conflict is moving from the jungles to the industrial hub'

Renowned film-maker Prakash Jha is known for making issue-based movies.

Whether it was Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Aarakshan,’ which showcased crass commercialisation of education or ‘Rajneeti’ (dirty game in politics), ‘Apaharan’ (kidnapping menace), ‘Gangajal’ (Bhagalpur blinding case), ‘Mrityudand’ (widow’s plight) or for that matter ‘Daamul’ (caste system).

Of late, the veteran producer-director is perturbed over the naxalites spreading their tentacles from forest area to industrial zone. And therefore, Jha is nowadays busy making his next movie ‘Chakravyuh’ on the Maoists’ menace.

“I want to bring the issue of naxalism in public domain, as Maoists are getting closer to our neighbourhood. Through my movie I want to warn everyone that we are sitting on a time bomb which may explode any time, if things are not set aright,” Jha, who took some time off from his busy film-making schedule, told Abhay Kumar of Deccan Herald. Excerpts:

Your next movie Chakravyuh is based on naxalism. Any specific reason for churning out a film on this issue?

The idea cropped up way back in 2003. Since then, I and my team have been doing research on the issue. I found that the primary reason for tribals turning Maoists is our feudal mind-set. We may be a democratic country but the feudals have not stopped exploiting the tribals.

Any specific example?

Police-walleh aaj bhi unki murgi le jate hain aur unki ladki bhi…(Even today, the police and forest guards take away their chicken as well as girls). For us, democracy begins and ends with an election. But not everyone is equally participating in the democratic process. These tribals feel that in the pre-independence era, they had forest land to live in. After independence, the government took over the forest, thereby rendering them homeless. They feel left out for not having access to better life.

But efforts are being made by the government….
(interrupts…) Even today, the only channel of communication with these tribals is the forest guards and the local police, who leave no stone unturned in exploiting them, which eventually gives rise to social unrest.

How can you say this? Have you ever been to a naxal stronghold?

Yes, before writing the script of the movie (Chakravyuh), I personally went to Ghatshirola in Maharashtra to get a first-hand account of naxalism. But you must know that all this began long back in naxalbari in West Bengal over a controversial piece of land. When the tribals were denied their land (which was theirs), the Maoists joined hands and killed the landlord. This is precisely how the system of “wresting the land by force” came into being.

And what about the ‘Red corridor’ encompassing the Maoist areas of influence?

You will be surprised to know that the Red corridor comprises of more than 250 districts across the country. And this area is also called ‘liberated zone’, which means the writ of the government does not run here.

You are reported to have expressed concern over the suspected involvement of naxalites in the recent labour unrest in Maruti factory at Manesar?

This is what I wanted to say that the conflict of jungle is now coming to the industrial hub. I have been told that a lot of fresh recruitments have been made by the naxalites from the elite colleges and universities, where students have a Left leaning. What I am worried about is that Maoists are coming to our neighbourhood. Alarm bells are ringing. I want to convey through my movie that all of us are sitting on a time-bomb, which may explode any time if the necessary remedial measures are not taken.

It is said that your parliamentary constituency - Bettiah- from where you contested Lok Sabha elections twice (2004 & 2009) but lost, is also naxal-affected, and possibly inspired you to make a movie on the issue.

No. It has nothing to do with politics. In fact, I am done with politics. It’s true that I wanted to enter Parliament through Lok Sabha. I tried twice, but could not succeed. Now that chapter is closed.

But the grapevine has it that in 2014 Nitish Kumar, with whom you share a special bond, may offer you a Lok Sabha ticket.

I am not aware of any such move. My stand, as I have stated earlier, is that I have bid goodbye to politics, and now will do only what I am competent to do – make issue-based films.

Have you repeated as actor your Bihar colleague Manoj Bajpai, who earlier starred in Rajneeti and Aarakshan?

Yes, the movie (Chakravyuh), which is slated to be released in October, will have Manoj, besides Arjun Rampal, Ajay Devgan, Isha Gupta and a new-comer Anjali Patil.