Prakash Jha’s Aashram explores an issue of petty criminals exploiting people through religion. The filmmaker talks about the film, his love for socio-political and economic topics and why he chose Bobby Deol to play a godman.

 

He is an award-winning director who is known to focus on socio-political and economic issues in his films. Now, filmmaker Prakash Jha’s debut web series, ‘Aashram’, starring Bobby Deol, is all set to release on August 28 on MX Player.

Bollywood actor Bobby Deol plays a godman in this series and it seems to be a different choice of an actor who is always associated with macho, heroic roles. “Exactly for that reason! Very different and unexpected character — I needed somebody who looked honest, convincing and who’d easily be able to sway people with his presence. And Bobby has that and he is a damn good actor. We have been wanting to work together for a long time and it was a good opportunity,” explains Jha.

His latest film ‘Pareeksha’, which focused on education was widely appreciated by the audience and critics, and ‘Aashram’ again explores a social issue of petty criminals exploiting people through religion. Would it be controversial? “No, it should not be,” says Jha, “The subject is about people from the lower strata of society putting their faith into the hands of these quacks, criminals, opportunists. I’m a Hindu and I believe in my religion and I respect the faith of others. Hinduism has a vast spiritual treasure and we thrive because of that; it shows us the path. ‘Aashram’ is about people who bring disrepute to Hinduism and use religion for nefarious activities and on the common unsuspecting people and the equation that works there. This story was brought to me by MX Player and was very well-written. In fact, in the entire series, we don’t mention from which religion that Baba is from. I don’t think there’ll be any controversy after it’s released but before its release people have their apprehensions — as it has happened with me earlier also. I’m not worried about it,” elucidates the filmmaker.

Whether it is TV, film or web series, the director states that being a content person, the medium and technology are only incidental. Jha adds, “The OTT format is different and you have the opportunity to expand on the layers, the subtext, the sub-plots and character development which is interesting. But everything has to tell the story. If you get disengaged with my narrative, then I’ve lost you. It’s challenging and interesting.”

As for the scripts he chooses to work on, Jha believes that the stories choose him. “Each story is born out of social friction or social development. I enjoy trying to observe and find out the changes that happen. And the script is the most important for any project  – if you’ve written a good script, chances of making a bad film are less. If the script is not good, no matter what you do, you can’t make a good film,” he smiles.

As of now, Jha is focused on ‘Aashram’ and says that the show, which also includes actors like Chandan Roy Sanyal, Aaditi Pohankar, Darshan Kumaar, and Adhyayan Suman, has turned out well. “It’s a new kind of show and the drama is big. I have enjoyed making it and I’m expecting people to love it,” the director signs off.