Learning is a never-ending process, says Prakash Jha

The Asian Age.  | Lipika Varma

Known for his hard-hitting movies, Prakash Jha opens up about the women in his life.

Prakash Jha with daughter Disha

Prakash Jha’s movies have always attracted controversies, be it Gangajal, Rajneeti, Aarakshan, Jai Gangajal, and now, Lipstick Under My Burkha. The last movie is facing its own struggle, with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) not giving the movie a go-ahead. In a freewheeling interview, Prakash talks about his movies, his struggles, and the influence women in his life have had on him. Excerpts:

Controversy’s child
I have always tried to depict real topics. In fact, it’s mostly the prevailing stuff from within society that need to be brought up on the silver screen. We as filmmakers have a great responsibility towards society. When Alankrita Shrivastava came up with Lipstick Under My Burkha’s story, I told her that this film would definitely have a tough time for its bold subject. But I went ahead with it. The CBFC has not given it the desired certification. So now, for its India release, we are going to go ahead and get the certification from the tribunal. I’m sure our movie will definitely get a positive nod. I’m confident.

His mother’s son
I have been influenced by women throughout my life. I’ve seen my mother as the most powerful woman ever. I have learnt how to be strong and be powerful from her activities. When people would ask me if she’s a housewife, I would wonder what the meaning of that term is. My mother would take care of the fields that have been in our possession. She was like the zamindar who took the decision of what crops and seeds need to be sowed in the fields. Not that she dominated my father. Yes, they did have a lot of differences in opinions but my mother was strong and all her decisions would prove fruitful. As kids, we didn’t just fear our dad, but also our mom. This kind of an upbringing definitely inculcated the strength in me to be able to stand for the right kind of things.  

Prakash Jha

Separation from wife Deepti Naval
Let me tell you, Deepti and I are thick pals even today. Not a single day goes by when she doesn’t come to my office, or I’m not in touch with her. She’s a great singer, painter, and an actress. She’s a very intelligent lady. However, a while after getting married, we felt as if our growth had become stagnant. We were not excelling in whatever we had come here to achieve. Thus, we separated. Today, we’re both quite happy with the way our lives have shaped up. Any help — professionally or personally — we’re there for each other. Having said that, we don’t need to live under one roof. Living separately, and being there for each other is what’s more important in any relationship. Deepti and I are there for each other every minute of our lives. We cannot do with each other even for a single minute.

Daughter dearest
Look at Disha, my daughter who we adopted. She has nothing to do with Deepti, but they cannot do without each other. Disha even addresses Deepti as ‘Ma’. As a family, we may have heated discussions, but later in the evening, we go to a restaurant and enjoy each other’s company. It’s been five or six years since Disha and I decided to live separately; we live as next-door neighbours now. One day, she came to me and said she’d found a financer and made a TV serial. Later, she came up with a film script and narrated it to me. I didn’t like the subject much, but she said, “Look, dad, I’ve never liked your subjects either. Our thought processes are different. I like the story and I’ve found a financer. All I need from you is your banner.” I accepted her proposal, and now she’s coming up with her film.

Taking to movies
I remember being chosen for a government job. I left it and came here to Mumbai. I’m still very grounded; I believe in doing newer things even today. There is so much that I still have to learn. Soon, I’m going to learn flying. Also, I’m making a film on the Narmada River. We’re currently shooting for this documentary. Learning is a never-ending process and the same quest separated me from my wife.

Alankrita as competition
Lipstick Under My Burkha is an electrifying subject, and I agreed to let her make it under my production house. I know she’s competition to me, but you cannot stop good ideas from coming from anyone. Today we need to portray good, effective ideas on reel. There should be no stopping with such burning ideas.