Posted by Fenil Seta
The RDB filmmaker has been quietly shooting his buddy film with four kids
Roshmila Bhattacharya (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 18, 2017)
Since May 3, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has been quietly shooting his next directorial, Mere Pyare Prime Minister, in a Ghatkopar slum. The film revolves around four kids—Kanhaiya (played by Om), Nirala (Prasad), Ringtone (Adarsh) and Mangala (Saina) who is the leader of the group—who live in a Mumbai slum.
“The subject has been simmering on a slow fire for three years. I’m a Delhi boy and all my films—Rang De Basanti, Delhi 6, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Mirzya—were all set in the North. But I’ve been living in Mumbai since 1988 and seen it transform into a world city. The buildings are taller now but there are still slums around them that have always intrigued me and made me follow the path of Salaam Bombay, Slumdog Millionaire and other stories which have grown out of them,” says the filmmaker.
Wondering about these slums, he ventured into them during a month-long reccee and while hanging out with kids was amazed at how vibrant their life was despite all the challenges. “Your mindset is shaped by your perceptions. Someone living in a taller building would look down on the slums and their inmates without realising that someone living in a high-rise would also be looking down at them. Ditto developing countries viz-a-viz richer nations. My film is not so much about comparisons as it is a story of people and relationships, survival and not giving up, the endeavour to lead a better life. There is no attempt to overplay or undermine, it’s about seeing this world through different eyes and finding beauty and inspiration in it,” he asserts, pointing out that they started out shooting a Holi song with 200 people and by the time it was over there were 1,000 people around and everyone was drenched in colour.
Like his 2006 cult film, Rang De Basanti, Mere Pyare Prime Minister, which makes an appeal to the PM is also a buddy film exploring the theme of friendship through these four kids. It’s evident that he’s having the time of his life as he hangs out with these super smart kids who sit on pipelines with their smart phones, using the free wifi from a nearby luxury resort to learn about WWE, Real Madrid and stay connected with the world.
Three years ago, Mehra, with an NGO from Ahmedabad, which was inspired by Rang De Basanti wanted to bring about change, visited the Gandhi Ashram and after seeing the Mahatma’s model toilets started an initiative to build toilets in municipal schools. “In the first year we built 20, then, over the next two years, we’ve built 800,” says the filmmaker whose eight-year-old protagonist, Kanhaiya aka Kanu wants to build a toilet for his young, single mother Sargam played by National Award winner Anjali Patil.
He goes on to recall that one day when he was looking up at the city’s skyline from the slum and chatting with the kids, they zeroed in on one high-rise and figured that going by the number of floors, the flats on each floor and the toilets attached to each flat, one building would have at least 1,000 toilets while the 5000 shanties around it didn’t have even one. “These 10x10-feet shanties are spotlessly clean with a one-in-all living room, kitchen and bedroom, only no bathroom,” Rakeysh points out.
Was the film inspired by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign? “The idea was with me before the present government came to power and raised awareness about cleanliness. I was just not in a hurry to make it till I hit on the right story,” he says.
Akshay Kumar’s upcoming film, Toilet - Ek Prem Katha, also deals with the same subject. Will that cut into his audience? “Five Bhagat Singh films had been made before but I still made Rang De Basanti. I’m happy another film is being made on this topical subject. It’s a story that needs to be told to a larger audience across the country and the world and the more the merrier,” the filmmaker signs off with a smile.
This entry was posted on October 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm, and is filed under Anjali Patil, Bollywood News, Mere Pyare Prime Minister, Mumbai, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Rang De Basanti, Swachh Bharat, Toilet - Ek Prem Katha . Follow any responses to this post through RSS. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.