Filmmaker Prakash Jha has collaborated with Allu Aravind to create a web series in Hindi, which will also stream in Telugu and Tamil. Commenting on having known about Allu Arvind for a long time and the respect he has for him as a content producer and film producer, Jha tells us that he’s been a huge fan of Allu Arvind and his actor son, Allu Arjun.
Talking about the biopic, he adds, “A very small percentage of today’s generation knows about PV Narasimha Rao, who’d changed India. He honestly gave India the economic independence we’d struggled (to achieve) for 45–50 years. He brought about changes and systems in our polity and economy and society and everyday life of this country, which are now irreversible. We are what we are because of those five momentous years from 1991–1996.”
Jha recollects a time when he’d arrived in Mumbai years ago. “We had to walk and wait at some shop to be able to make a telephone call. We had to book a trunk call. We had to bribe to book a telephone instrument. And we know what happened to our country in those five years when this non-descriptive and diminutive politician from Hyderabad, almost on the verge of retirement, rented a flat in Mumbai because that’s where he was going to get his Rajya Sabha seat from,” remembers Jha.
“He’d also contemplated of becoming a ‘mahant’ in a matth. But he’d been banished from the political landscape as Rajiv Gandhi hadn’t given him a ticket in 1991. He used to contest from Ramtek.”
Jha tells us why he believed this story was begging to be told. “That man knew exactly what had to be done. And when he got the opportunity, he manoeuvred through it and had the guts and the will to do it. The greatness of the man is that he never took any credit and instead gave it to others like Manmohan Singh, Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi, the INC and the history of this country. He stayed and remained in the shadows,” adds Jha.
Paying due respect
Based on the book of the same name — Half Lion by historian Vinay Sitapati — the web series will be made with more inputs from the author as well.
But clearly, Jha’s passion for the project has a lot to do with the subject.
Speaking more about why the personality needs to be spoken about, Jha adds, “When Rao took over, we had negative growth and were defaulting in our instalments to the IMF because we couldn’t pay them. We didn’t have even one week’s money to pay for the oil we needed to import. But when he left his post as PM in 1996, we had a growth of over 8%, which is no mean feat. But not only history but also his own party and people have been unjust and cruel with this man who didn’t claim anything. However, now, the time has come when people understand and have started remembering and talking about him, and I hope we’ll have a small part in telling PV Narasimha Rao’s story, so that the gentleman gets his due after having done so much for this country,’ adds Jha....