Prakash Jha, recognized for making hard-hitting movies on social and political points, is making a debut on the OTT platform with an internet sequence titled Aashram. In this story of a conman masquerading as a godman, Bobby Deol performs the lead. The crime drama is unfold over 9 episodes.
Why this topic for a sequence? “Why not?” asks the filmmaker. “An intriguing story, nuanced characters and multiple plots, a team of writers and researchers had worked on this theme. So when MX Player approached me to produce and direct it, I did not think twice.”
As for casting Bobby Deol, who was lately seen in Class of 83, Jha explains, “I needed a believable face, so chose Bobby Deol. He is a good actor too. We wanted to work together for a while.”
That the sequence courted controversy doesn’t deter Jha. “Right before the release it happens with many of my projects; people think kuch gadbad banaya hoga but the hullabaloo dies soon. I am a responsible filmmaker and that reflects in each subject that I pick up. We respect all religions, people’s beliefs and faith on their gurus. Aashram is the story of a conman who disguises as one, but it does not malign any faith. It is not a religious story,” he says.
The lockdown was all work for Jha. “Weeks went by arranging and negotiating after the production of Aashram. Since everything happens digitally now, work was going on.” Though we’re nonetheless within the grip of Covid-19, Jha is already shifting on to his subsequent venture. “I am yet to finalise things, but there are three to four possible films; we will start with the shooting in January 2021. Most likely, Season 2 of Aashram is also on the cards.”
Never felt bullied
Ask the Satyagraha, Aarakshan and Gangaajal director if he feels that the business, with talks of lobbying and nepotism, is popping out to be a poisonous place and he says, “I don’t really feel so. I’ve been
constantly working and by no means felt bullied. While that has been my expertise, issues is probably not similar for everybody else, which is why the noise is being made.”
Jha stays blissfully away from social media the place the wars of hashtags are fought. “Being on social media is like giving people another weapon to attack you. I have never been on Facebook or Instagram. We do have a Twitter handle where we put film-related stories, but I don’t like to handle it myself much.”
So, did he discover the online medium any completely different? “Though it is my first web series, I did not find it any different from films. It’s been written, shot and treated in a manner befitting a film.”
(Aashram releases on August 28 on MX Player)