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A travelogue, a film

Sanjay Jha is ready with `Strings - Bound by Faith', not devoid of controversy though



Sanjay Jha

After his directorial debut, a black comedy Pran Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaye a year ago, Sanjay Jha is on to what he claims to be India's first travelogue love story, Strings - Bound by Faith. Its story is woven against the background of Kumbh fair at Nasik. Jha has roped in Kabir Bedi's son Adam Bedi, an NSD student Tanishtha Chatterjee and Sandhya Mridul as lead characters. It is about an English boy, namely Warren Hastings, who wants to know the mystical land called India. So he is asked by his e-mail friend (played by Sandhya Mridul) to visit Kumbh mela to explore real India. There he meets a priest's daughter who is an amalgam of old and new values, played by Chatterjee. How their diverse values bring them closer is what the film is all about.

But Jha, just before the release of this film, is facing a Public Interest Litigation filed against his film by one Swami Anand Giri, pupil of Mahant Narendra Giri, for he has used the famous poem `Om' by the controversial poet Baba Nagarjuna as it is, in the form of a euphonic song. The poem puts the word `Om' in the context of gun, money, power and politics.

Says Jha about the PIL, "Sadhu Anand Giri wants me to scrap the song from the film. But I don't understand why he is doing so. I have retained the original poem that he wrote in 1969 which encompasses his vision of future India. It has nothing to do with religion."

Jha has shot the film in actual locations during Kumbh mela in "Guerrilla style" to establish the geography of the place. In this 94-minute film replete with "interesting images" treated with "stylised documentary" method, Jha has taken an unknown cast for a valid reason. "I couldn't have taken Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan in it because I had to shoot at actual locations. I wanted ordinary faces who could camouflage with the mela crowd and look like one of them. This is a character-based film and not an actor-based film," says Jha, who however bemoans the lack of freedom of artistic expression, when it comes to making a film like this.

However, not very sure of cash registers ringing with this film, Jha will be showing this film at Golden Gate and International Kerala Film Festival. He has already shown it at the recent Osian's film festival as an opening film.

RANA SIDDIQUI

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