One of the most prolific filmmakers of Indian cinema, Prakash Jha celebrates his 67th birthday today. The director is known for his hard-hitting portrayal of real-life social issues in his films. Born in Barharwa, Bettiah, West Champaran, Bihar, Jha left his B.Sc (Hons) in Physics course mid-day to pursue a career in painting in Mumbai.
*While he was preparing for J.J. School of Arts, he happened to witness the shooting of the film Dharma and got hooked on filmmaking. He soon joined the prestigious FTII ( Film and Television Institute of India) in Pune to pursue a course in editing.
*He made his first documentary, Under the Blue, in 1975, and continued to do so for the next eight years. Prakash made his directorial debut with Hip Hip Hurray in 1984, scripted by Gulzar and starring Raj Kiran and Deepti Naval.
*His next film Damul which revolved around the theme of bonded labour in Bihar landed him with the National Film Award for Best Feature Film and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie in 1985.
*Over the years, Jha went on to direct films like Mrityudand, Rahul, Gangaajal, Apaharan, Rajneeti, Aarakshan, Chakravyuh, Satyagraha, Jai Gangaajal amongst others. He also produced films like Aarakshan, Chakravyuh, Satyagraha, Lipstick under My Burkha, Fraud Saiyyan.
*Speaking about his films springing from the world around him, the director once quoted in an Outlook India interview, “I have chronicled social changes through my films. In Mrityudand I talk of the open market economy, how the traditional zamindari is gone, the contractor coming in. My effort as a filmmaker is how to tell it to an audience that wants to be entertained. The idea is to reach out, make money yet say something.
*Damul and Parineeti were purely my own films. I started negotiating from Mrityudand onwards. Otherwise I’d have to shut shop and go back to Bihar. It’s something I am learning, and it continues till date. It’s a constant struggle. Sometimes it gets better balanced, at others not.”
*Prakash Jha contested and lost the election to the Lok Sabha from his native Champaran in 2004. He again lost the election to the Lok Sabha in 2009 as Lok Janashakti Party candidate from West Champaran. He again contested in the 2014 elections as a JD(U) candidate from Paschim Champaran but ended up losing the elections.