A big ticket to Bollywood for Bhopal locals

By Shahnawaz Akhtar, IANS
Friday, February 18, 2011

BHOPAL - Three assistant directors and more than 65 supporting artists are among the many Bhopal locals who have got a golden opportunity to be part of Bollywood, thanks to Prakash Jha’s “Aarakshan”. Some are just happy to feature in the crowds in film scenes.

The film is helping budding talent from the city find a foothold in showbiz, says Zohaib Ali who has been hired as an assistant director to work on “Aarakshan”, which stars Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone and Manoj Bajpai.

“Prakash Jha has kept his promise. After the shooting of ‘Raajneeti’ here, he had said that in his next movie he will give a chance to people from Bhopal,” Zohaib, 23, told IANS.

“The chance to work as an assistant director with Prakash Jha is the turning point of my career. He knows almost everything needed to make a film - from direction of photography (DOP), to production, screenplay to controlling huge crowds while doing it all.”

For several scenes of “Aarakshan”, Jha shot with a crowd of 2,000 people along with other the stars of the film that deals with reservations for certain sections of society and its impact on society.

Apart from capturing the city as a perfect backdrop for his story, the director has also involved locals for various things.

There are 11 directors assisting Jha in “Aarakshan” and three of them are from the city of lakes.

In every film, there are three categories of characters - primary, secondary and those who are secondary to the secondary characters.

“Other than the directors, there are about 65 locals involved in the film. They are playing secondary and secondary to secondary characters,” said Zohaib.

The production team has put up three major sets at Minal Residency, Oriental College and Rizwan Bagh. The makers plan to shoot the entire film here in 58 days and the cast and crew have been on the job since Jan 21.

Zohaib says both Jha and Amitabh Bachchan, who is playing pivotal role in “Aarakshan”, are an “institution” in themselves.

“Amitabh is a professional to watch. One day he was shooting in the rain and even at this age he did it for two hours without going to his vanity room. I observe them so that I could learn a little bit from their work,” said Zohaib.

In fact, Zohaib played a small role in Jha’s dark political thriller “Raajneeti” - he was part of the group that was with Arjun Rampal in the film.

Before the shooting of “Aarakshan”, Zohaib’s father Zulfiqar Ali, a ghazal singer and composer, met Jha and told him about his son’s wish to become a director, and the seasoned filmmaker immediately hired him.

“I have done an acting course from The Rising Society of Actor Lab (Bhopal) and I have learnt acting from Chandrahas Tiwari,” said Zohaib.

He also praised the other cast members - Saif, Deepika and Manoj - and said, “the best thing is all are cooperative and good-natured, helping us learn from them.

“All of them are enjoying working in Bhopal, especially Manoj Bajpai who likes Bhopal’s food - from biryani to tikka - very much.”

(Shahnawaz Akhtar can be contacted at shahnawaz.a@ians.in

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