'Aarakshan' explores caste-based quotas in education

MUMBAI Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:41pm IST

Actor Saif Ali Khan in a scene from the latest Prakash Jha film 'Aarakshan'. Reuters/Handout

Actor Saif Ali Khan in a scene from the latest Prakash Jha film 'Aarakshan'. Reuters/Handout

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Director Prakash Jha’s last film put the spotlight on the dark underbelly of regional politics in India. His new film “Aarakshan” explores the murky world of its education system.

The film, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone, draws inspiration from real-life incidents to build a story around education and caste-based reservation in India.

“Education is considered the biggest asset one can have in India,” Jha told Reuters. “My film deals with a lot of issues concerning this industry.”

Jha, who is known for his brand of political cinema, says his treatment of the film’s subject isn’t going to be ambiguous.

“We all know we live in a caste-based society, we know there are caste-based reservations, so why should we be cagey about it? Why can’t we talk about it openly in our films?” he asks.

Saif Ali Khan plays a Dalit in the film, while Prateik Babbar plays a high-caste Brahmin, both of whom are affected by the government’s decision to introduce quotas in education.

Jha said incidents like the Mandal Commission protests and the 1990 self-immolation of Delhi college student Rajeev Goswami were some of the aspects incorporated in “Aarakshan”.

“Almost every politician in our country owns colleges and universities. As a character in my film says ‘what can be a better business than education,” Jha said.

“There is not a day that goes by in our lives that isn’t touched by politics. So why shouldn’t I make political films?”

“Aarakshan” opens in Indian cinemas on August 12.

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