With the highly-acclaimed Madras Cafe opening to very encouraging responses, the scenario is perfect for another political thriller coming Friday.
And no, Satyagraha is not a sequel to Prakash Jha's Raajneeti. "I was only trying to say that the politics of the two films has a kind of continuity. Where the politics of Raajneeti ends the politics of Satyagraha takes over. Otherwise there is no similarity between the two films. The characters are very different from one another," says Prakash Jha.
While Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpayee and Arjun Rampal have worked in a number of films with Prakash, and the Big B has done the anti-reservation film Aarakshan before, it is a first for Prakash with Kareena Kapoor.
Says the director, "There were talks about other leading ladies opposite Ajay. But I was adamant on Kareena. I feel she is at a stage in her career where she needs to pamper herself as an actress. She doesn't need to prove anything in the glamour zone. She has done it all. I wanted her to play an investigative journalist, a socio-politically aware woman of today. Kareena surprised me with her understanding of present day politics. There are very few contemporary actresses who could have played the role as forcefully as her."
Says a source close to the two families, "Nihalani's film was the exception that Bachchan Saab couldn't resist. It was the film's politics that convinced him to do the film in spite of Kareena's presence in the cast. And look at the coincidence. Satyagraha is also a political drama!"
Prakash Jha is profoundly impressed by the Big B's dedication to his role. "He is the most prepared actor I've worked with. He goes through his lines the night before. And yet when he faces the camera there is no rehearsed quality in his performance. His performance in Satyagraha is tremendous. I couldn't have done this film without him. No one else could play the Gandhian idealist."
As for Ajay Devgn, Prakash Jha's face lights up with pride and pleasure. "My films Gangaajal, Apaharan and now Satyagraha are important to Ajay's career. I wouldn't be bold enough to call them turning points. But each of my films with Ajay has given him a chance to hone his talent."
There are hushed rumours of a fall-out between Prakash and Ajay and a reconciliation only after the assurance of hefty remuneration.
Protests Prakash, "Any director-actor collaboration that lasts beyond 2-3 film is talked about. People have been talking about difference between Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan for quite some time. It has made no difference to their association. Ajay and I will continue to be friends and collaborators."
In fact Prakash has already offered Ajay Devgn his next film Satsang.
At the moment Prakash is gung-ho about the release of Satyagraha. After editing the film is 2 hours 30 minutes long.