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Jha Clears Air On 'Aarakshan', Says Its Not Anti-Quota

PTI 02 Aug 2011, 22:09:26 IST

Mumbai/New Delhi, Aug 2:  With his forthcoming film ‘Aarakshan' kicking up a controversy, Director Prakash Jha today told the Bombay High Court its theme was neither pro nor anti-reservation and that it deals with commercialisation of education.

Jha also declined to hold special screenings for politicians before the Amitabh Bachchan and Saif Ali Khan starrer hits the screens as planned on August 12.

The High Court said it will give a ruling tomorrow on whether it would watch the movie and if the petitioners who have raised questions on the film would also be permitted to attend the screening.

Jha's submissions to the court came even as an OBC MPs Forum asked him to organise a preview for its members to avoid any problems after its release.

Convener of the Forum V Hanumantha Rao said he has written to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni in this regard.

“There is huge speculation amongst the OBC community that the film will hurt their sentiments. The OBC students might take it seriously and there may be some problems in the screening of the film. Hence this request,” he said in Delhi.

“Aarakshan”, a socio-political drama deals with the sensitive caste-based reservations in government jobs and educational institutions.

Yn an affidavit filed in High Court, Jha said the film is not anti-reservation or anti-Dalit.

“The film just uses the issue of (caste-based) reservation as a landscape or backdrop on which the story and journey of the protagonist, who is the Principal of an institution, is based. It highlights the commercialisation of education system in the present society,” he added.

The affidavit by Jha was submitted in response to a petition filed by two advocates, who have claimed the movie has an anti-reservation theme and was likely to create social disharmony.

During the hearing, a Division Bench of Justices D D Sinha and A R Joshi expressed a wish to watch the movie to decide on the issues raised in the petition.  Counsels for Jha - Venkatesh Dhond and Ameet Naik - argued that the Censor Board, not wanting to take any chances, had got the movie reviewed by people who were sensitive to the cause of the backward classes.

Central Board of Film Certification advocate Rajeev Chavan told the the court that a nine-member committee was formed to review the film. The panel included four members of SC/ST communities, a Dalit activist and a retired HC Judge.  “The committee said no provisions of Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe Act were violated in the movie,” he said. PTI