More than the system, society needs to change'

Rakeysh's film often presents the faults in the system and the need to bring about change.

The man behind films like Rang De Basanti (2006), Delhi-6 (2009) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) is back with another movie and this time filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra touches the subject of sexual assault and open defecation. Titled Mere Pyare Prime Minister, the story is about a boy who writes a letter to India’s Prime Minister after his mother gets sexually violated. The film features Anjali Patil and Om Kanojiya.

Talking about the theme of the film that releases today, the filmmaker says, “It's not about revenge. It's about how we look at the rape victims. We victimize them more. The whole male gaze needs to be changed. The story is set in a slum colony called Gandhi Nagar. There are amenities like a refrigerator, air conditioner, washing machine and dish antenna but there is no safety. A single mother is raped and everyone blames the establishment. It's about how we bring up our children and how they should behave with girls. What has given the man the liberty (to assault someone) just because they are more empowered? We have to change the environment to make ourselves safe. We are not safe amongst ourselves. It's happening everywhere. There are marital rapes.”

While presenting how a rape victim is perceived by society, the film also touches upon the subject of love in the survivor's life. “There's also a beautiful love story in the film. Just because a woman is raped does not mean she cannot fall in love. Here, the man’s love deepens for her. He cares more for her and is worried about her. It's a wound and more than a physical wound, it's a psychological wound. It's a very inspiring film and uplifting movie,” he adds.

Rakeysh’s film often presents the faults in the system and the need to bring about change. So, what is his take on the system at present and should it change? “Change is constant. The system has to change but it takes a lot of time. And, more than the system, society has to change now.”

When asked about his source of inspiration behind these films, the filmmaker says, “I make films on what I have seen in life. They are an extension of my take on life. When there was the issue of corruption or patriotism, the people of my generation had not done anything. I was in Air Force School when a lot of MIG jets crashed. It stayed on my mind and I made Rang De Basanti. The characters were based on my friends.”

And, how does he see his contemporaries' work? Has any movie inspired him ever? “I have never seen other people's cinema with the thought that my cinema is good and not theirs. It's their thought and they have made it as they have conceived it. I liked Vicky Donor and Padosan.”

Rakeysh is also working on a love story. Elaborating on it, he says, “I am attempting a new love story titled Toofan. It is a beautiful love story written by Anjum Rajabali. When I heard the story, I decided to make it. Besides, Farhan (Akhtar) and I wanted to work together for a long time.”

The filmmaker has been making movies for two decades now. But, what would he be if not a filmmaker? “I would be a chef. I make breakfast for my children every day. If I leave this (making films), maybe I will do something related to it. I also want to travel and I love deep sea diving. I want to see a lot of India.”

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