AARAKSHAN, Prakash Jha's upcoming film is due to release on 12th August 2011. However, the director along with ace screen-writer Anjum Rajabali had started penning down the script as much as 5 years back.
Years of working together on a script brought the director and writer so close that Prakash Jha would consult Anjum Rajabali even if he would change a single word in the dialogues during the shoot of AARAKSHAN. When asked, Prakash Jha said, "It's because of a combined vision and not out of uncertainty. It is 'our' script."
"In 2006, we came across the story of a Vice-Chancellor who had become very disillusioned from the system and both Prakash and I felt there had to be some issue and to know the story of this man, we should dig into what the core issue was," said Anjum Rajabali. This incident had happened in 2006, after the Mandal Commission enforced a 27% reservation of seats for backward classes in addition to the scheduled caste and schedule tribes.
From there originated the idea of a person who is in authority and has to answer masses about this decision. What would a character like this do and how would he respond interested Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali. In fact, every person has mixed opinions because it is such a sensitive issue. Not only is it sensitive, it is a highly misunderstood issue in our society. It evokes aggression in every person because of the intensity of the subject matter.
The first draft of the screenplay was ready by 17th June 2009, after which Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali churned out the characters in detail. In this process, there were a series of meetings and debates after which Prakash Jha started jokingly calling Anjum Rajabali his 'Chief Tormentor," to which Anjum Rajabali jokes and says that nobody other than him can work with Prakash Jha and they will all runaway from him because he is so tough to work with. With almost a decade of working together, they sometimes feel they are married! We know that means creatively of course.
It still took more than a year to dramatically weave the issue to all the characters experiences in AARAKSHAN. All along, Randhir Randhawa, the associate scriptwriter and researcher almost served as a walking encyclopedia to Anjum Rajabali and Prakash Jha. It was not only about reservation of seats then, but also quality and commercialization of education.
As a teacher himself, Anjum Rajabali said, "It agitates my soul to see how learning gets left out in the process of scoring highest possible marks and ranks. Marks are the only motivation and as long as the child is scoring well, nobody cares about the child's learning."
Although the film does not take any stand on the issue, both Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali had to be sure of what their stand is to reach the objective overlook. In the process, Prakash Jha joked and said, "We are not co-writers, we are co-wrestlers."