rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Business » Meet the director who builds malls, multiplexes and hospitals

Meet the director who builds malls, multiplexes and hospitals

Last updated on: May 30, 2011 15:47 IST

Meet the director who builds malls, multiplexes and hospitals

     Next

Next
Arghya Ganguly & Satyavrat Mishra in New Delhi

If you're tuned in to Bollywood, then the recent troubles surrounding Prakash Jha's Aarakshan surely haven't escaped your notice.

With the Bhopal civic authorities bulldozing the film's set for being on disputed land, the Dalit Suraksha Samiti threatening protest because the blue-blooded Saif Ali Khan was portraying a Dalit, and Prateik Babbar chopping off his locks prematurely, Aarakshan, appears to be on the skids.

But, if you meet Jha, you wouldn't get a sniff of the brouhaha.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: Prakash Jha
Photographs: Reuters
     Next

Meet the director who builds malls, multiplexes and hospitals

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

At the spacious offices of Prakash Jha Productions in Andheri, Jha, 59, sits cosily in a corner with a monkish expression that seems to say that criticism and controversy don't matter to him.

"I expected to find you in a foul mood," I tell him. "Why?" he counters. When I refer to the developments of the last few days, Jha dismisses them as occupational hazards. "I don't even think about these things; otherwise, work ends," says Jha.

"With Raajneeti, there was the whole Sonia Gandhi association, censor problems and some local protests. While doing Apaharan, some people who were in jail threatened me saying Aap mere life pe film bana rahe ho, acha nahin kar rahe ho. [You are not doing the right thing by making a film on my life.] These things keep happening. We are an extremely vocal society and we like to protest."

Jha, of course, isn't done with protesting. After his defeat in the 2009 general elections from West Champaran - his second electoral rout - you would think he had lost the stomach for it.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: Prakash Jha at the promotion of his film, Raajneeti
Photographs: Photograher: Pradeep Bandekar
Prev     Next

Meet the director who builds malls, multiplexes and hospitals

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

But Jha continues to voice defiance through his characters in Raajneeti (2010) and now Aarakshan. In fact, Jha comes across as someone who is more comfortable telling his story through others.

"Aarakshan deals with the whole system of education and opportunities which are very integral to our society," says Jha who won his first National Award for his documentary, Faces after the Storm (1984), based on the Biharsharif riots of 1981.

Jha's fascination with Bhopal, where he shot Raajneeti and Aarakshan, after a lifetime of films on Bihar has caused speculation in the film industry that he is "disillusioned" with Bihar.

Jha says that the reason for choosing one location over another is simply logistics.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: Prakash Jha on a shoot location

Prev     Next

Meet the director who builds malls, multiplexes and hospitals

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

"It works very well to shoot in Bhopal; for one, it's a one-hour flight from Mumbai, and two, the most important factor, are the people.

They are curious but they don't disturb you - I've not seen this in any other city of India. It's important for filmmakers to be able to work in peace especially when working outdoors which I do most of the time," says Jha. "I would like to shoot in Bihar again. But it's a little too far away..."

Bihar, though, is not too far away when it comes to business. Jha has invested in malls, multiplexes, hotels, hospitals and the media (Maurya TV) in the state.

It all started in 2004, when Nitish Kumar replaced Rabri Devi as chief minister. Jha, along with his long-term associate Manmohan Shetty, founded P&M Infrastructure.

"We want to develop malls in Patna, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad," says Vijay Nath Mishra, general manager of P&M Infrastructure. "Our mall in Patna is world class. It has all modern amenities. Soon it will have a 3D multiplex as well."

Click NEXT to read more...



Prev     Next

Meet the director who builds malls, multiplexes and hospitals

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The investments are under wraps, though Jha had once said that he plans to invest more than Rs 1,100 crore (Rs 11 billion) in Bihar.

After malls, Jha's next stop is super-specialty hospitals. "Every year, tens of thousands of people from Bihar go to other states for medical care. So we want to develop new super-specialty hospitals in Bihar and Jharkhand. Right now, we are developing one at Hajipur near Patna. Work will begin in three or four months and will get over in three to four years."

The company is also planning a 3-star hotel in Patna. Jha, born into a family of landlords, also holds the licence to put up a sugar mill near Bettiah where he was born. The sugar mill is still on the drawing board, though the P&M Infrastructure team is excited about it. "It will be the first sugar mill in the state in many decades," says Mishra.

"But we are taking one step at a time."

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: Floor plan of Prakash Jha's new project

Prev     Next

Meet the director who builds malls, multiplexes and hospitals

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The P&M mall in Patna was inaugurated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, with whom Jha has of late had his differences.

As he confided in an interview in 2009, "When I see him [Nitish Kumar] playing the kind of politics he plays, dividing an already divided society, creating a Maha Dalit section among Dalits and creating a divide between Muslims and Basanmanda Musulmans, I feel so disillusioned. Sometimes I think he is anti-investment because nothing has happened in the past 40 months."

But 2009 - the year when he gave up politics for good because he had promised that he would do it for a decade and no more - is a long time ago. Jha seems to have done a volte-face since.

"I never fell out with Nitish Kumar. We're still friends. He called me the other day after coming back from Bhutan where he found some Biharis doing good business to ask if I would be interested in doing business with them and put their products in my mall," Jha defends himself.

Click NEXT to read more...



Prev     Next

Meet the director who builds malls, multiplexes and hospitals

Prev     More
Prev

More

"My political decision to go with Ram Vilas Paswan was somehow not correct, although I never belonged to his party. So people thought there was friction between us [Nitish Kumar and I].

Sometimes you may not understand why he's trying to do something but eventually if it works for the society then it's correct. When the election results came out, Nitish Kumar was the first to call me and sympathise. I said to him, 'I'm free now. Now that I've lost this election I feel relieved. I can go back and do my work.'"

Work entails learning to play the piano, getting back to painting [which was the reason he first came to Mumbai in the early 1970s] because "post-60 is the time to introspect, which is what I'm heading towards" and investing more in Bihar since "the social issues have changed and the state is doing well". And, of course, make more movies.

 


Photographs: Reuters
Prev     More
Source: