is much talked about film Arth dealt with extra-marital relationship. Three decades later, film-maker Mahesh Bhatt has decided to adapt this bold film, which was way ahead of its time, into a theatrical production.
“Released in 1982, the film was bold in its content and was given adult certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification. Though the film was made 30 years ago, it is relevant in today’s time. Extra-marital relationship is quite prevalent in South Asian countries because of the collapse of moral values. We see a marked difference between morality of those days and contemporary times,” said Mr. Bhatt.
For the upcoming theatrical production, the film-maker is writing the script and has decided to use his protégé Imran Zahid. Imran will play the character essayed by Kulbhushan Kharbanda in the film.
“Both Imran and Kulbhushan have strong theatre background and are accomplished actors. Of late, there has been a marked improvement in Imran’s performance. He performed admirably in The Last Salute and Trial of Errors . I was planning to do a film on a student leader with him but it got bogged down by controversy.”
Noting that Arth was successful in raising the all-important issue of gender equality, Mr. Bhatt said: “The film looked at the issue of women’s emancipation from a new perspective. No one has been able to better what Arth highlighted in the world of movies or in theatre. Our young generation needs to experience the theme of Arth through theatre. It will strike a chord even with cinemagoers. The emotional quotient of the 1980s and 2013 are the same but some changes will have to be incorporated in the play.”
The film-maker, who is extending moral support to Ishrat Jahan’s beleaguered family, may make a film based on the tragic end to her life. But at the moment he is non committal.
“What happened to Ishrat, an intelligent Science student, who gave tuitions to support her large family, is indeed tragic. She was the lone breadwinner of the family as her father had passed away. Whether she was a terrorist or not is a debatable manner. Even if she was a terrorist, the State police cannot forget that there is a court, which runs according to the rule of law.”
As for commercial viability, Mr. Bhatt said his past experience with making films on such subjects like that of Ishrat Jahan has been an unsavoury one. “One has to make huge investment in the project, but then there is a risk that some politicians might piggyback on it to score a brownie point. Such films do not generate result at the box office. But the fact that the State machinery has victimised the minority community has been depicted in my play Trial of Error .”
Mr. Bhatt said Islamophobia is alive and kicking, and certainly Bollywood is guilty of stereotyping Muslim characters. “There is no denying that there is no perfect Muslim or Hindu.”
In his upcoming film projects, Mr. Bhatt has again roped in his nephew Imran for his next romantic flick.
“It is titled Mr. X in which Imran is playing the lead. It is a love story and thriller,” said Mr. Bhatt, carefully wording his sentence and refusing to divulge more details.
Islamophobia is alive and kicking, and certainly Bollywood is guilty of stereotyping Muslim characters