Director Janaki Vishwanathan on her satire “Yeh Hai Bakrapur”

There was a time when animals played crucial roles in Hindi films. Remember the Dev Anand-Dilip Kumar starrrer Insaniyat and Jackie Shroff’s Teri Meherbaniyaan? With animal rights activists getting vocal about the treatment meted out to animals on film sets, filmmakers stopped writing roles for animals. But this summer, a goat is going to be the centre of attraction in Janaki Vishwanathan’s Yeh hai Bakrapur.

“It is a socio-political satire where the story revolves around a goat called Shah Rukh,” says Janaki. “It is an entertaining film where the levity is maintained from beginning to end but there are many takeaways from the narrative. Through the goat the film reflects on the communal tension and the battle of resources in a rural milieu,” adds Janaki, who is known for Kittu, her National Award winning documentary on child labour.

The switch from documentary to feature film was not difficult for her. “I started my career as a feature writer where unlike routine reportage you are expected to engage the reader at a deeper level. Then when I switched to television I was associated with shows like Amul India Show which again expected me to go beyond the obvious.” The vibrancy was reflected in Kittu as well, which was inspirational and entertaining at the same time.

On naming the goat Shah Rukh, and the punchline which says being bakra is better than being human, Janaki says it was not just about gaining attention. “Obviously, these days you need some attention grabbing ideas but the name was going with the plot. The idea emerged from a news story about a goat that travelled from Rajasthan to Delhi. During the research I met many goat sellers and they told me that they often name their goats Shah Rukh and Salman. In fact it is a trend of sorts and the goat we used is indeed called Shah Rukh. It made our task easier.”

Calling Shah Rukh an intelligent goat, which belies the opinion about his species, Janaki says he was easy to shoot with. “We didn’t expect him to do any stunts. He was expected to behave like a usual goat and he was up to the task. He didn’t make us wait for the right expression!”

As the story revolves around the goat, Janaki needed actors who understood the importance of the story and in Anushuman Jha and Asif Basra she found the right set of actors. “There has always been audience for these kind of films. It is only the distribution aspect that was lacking in taking these ideas to the public. That is changing now and I hope people will appreciate it. There is nothing highbrow about it.”