A week ago, director Prakash Jha's Gangaajal was released all over the country, but banned in Patna.
The reason: the villain, played by Mohan Joshi, is called Sadhu Yadav. And Sadhu Yadav is the name of former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav's brother-in-law.
But the film, starring Ajay Devgan and Gracy Singh, opens today in Bihar's capital, after Jha met Laloo and Sadhu Yadav in Patna on Thursday. "I met Lalooji, [his wife] Rabri Devi, and Sadhu Yadav. Apparently, Sadhu Yadav saw Gangaajal in Kolkata on his way back from Singapore.He did not talk to me about the film, but he told Patna's mediapersons that there was nothing objectionable in it."
Jha says he spent 40 minutes with Laloo Yadav. "Rabri Devi was also present. We had a pleasant conversation. Lalooji told me he had no objection to the film being released in Patna. He expressed annoyance with those who had disrupted the film's release."
Laloo Yadav apparently told the filmmaker, "Hum to kehte hain naam rakhne do (I maintain that the name must be kept)."
The former chief minister also referred to Mahesh Manjrekar's forthcoming comedy, Padmashri Laloo Prasad Yadav, in which he makes a guest appearance, and told Jha, "Hamara bhi naam rakhta hai to mera fayda hota hai [If you use my name, I will benefit]."
Laloo Prasad and Rabri Devi did not attend the special screening of the film on Thursday evening, which had prominent members of the Bihar bureaucracy, including several top police officers, present. "They told me they liked what I had depicted in Gangaajal. Huge crowds began to gather around the theatre. They thought the film would open yesterday," smiles Jha.
The controversy, Jha admits, has helped create curiosity about Gangaajal. The film is the biggest of his career. His earlier works include Damul, Mrityudand and Rahul. He says, "Gangaajal is not just the biggest hit of my career. It is the first successful Hindi film by a Bihari. I hope more people from Bihar will be encouraged to join the creative fields.
"They are suddenly talking about me as a big director in Bollywood; that I can work with any star I want. But I have already decided to make my next film with Ajay Devgan."
Jha's next film is about spiritualism and mysticism, and will have special effects. "Ajay will be in whatever I decide to make next even if I have to snatch his dates away from other filmmakers," says Jha.
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