National Award-winning filmmaker Suman Ghosh says his next, Aadhaar celebrates the contradictions of India, a country interestingly dubbed both a “superpower” and a “village” nation.
Ghosh is making his Hindi directorial debut with Aadhaar, featuring Mukkabaaz star Viineet Kumar Singh.
The filmmaker, whose directorial debut 2008 Bengali film Podokkhep earned him a National Award in the Best Feature Film category, said the movie is not based on the Aadhaar card per se.
“The card is rather a motive through which I explore current India. I love the canvas of the country. There are so many variations and contradictions that are present in the digital world… projecting India as a superpower but at the same time, there is a village India.
“Eighty per cent of people live in the villages. India is currently going through an interesting phase. My film celebrates this phase, where there is a push and pull. This is what makes the country fascinating,” Ghosh told PTI in an interview.
The Aadhaar scheme received polarising reactions from civil and political society and the film will look into both the perspectives through the story of a common man (Singh) as he is caught in the bureaucratic red tape in the process of enrolling his name in the initiative.
The director said he is aware the film centres around a sensitive topic and promised he has dealt with it carefully.
“I know people will ask me whether it is a pro- or anti-Aadhaar film. I have tried to be as objective as possible. Who am I to make a statement on whether Aadhaar is good or bad?
“The language of the film is humour and through humour, I have tried to bring out certain aspects which people will identify with. The film pertains to the debate and issues that have been going on for two years or so,” he said.
Ghosh believes, as a concept, Aadhaar is “wonderful” for a country.
“Aadhaar was started by the UPA government and then taken up by NDA government. There is a natural categorisation of pro- and anti-Aadhaar people, one is UPA and the other is the NDA side. It was launched by Dr Manmohan Singh (then prime minister). One should be aware of that and not bring the political angle irresponsibly.
“According to me, Aadhaar is a wonderful idea and necessary for any country. But there are some implementation issues that are being corrected and that gave rise to debates and discussions. But it is a good thing about a functioning democracy.”
Ghosh said the film needed a “solid actor” like Singh. Aadhaar is produced by Drishyam Films and Jio Studios production.
“When we had the script ready in early 2018. ‘Mukkabaaz’ had released that time. My producer Manish Mundra and I saw the film and felt Viineet was the apt choice.”
For the research, the filmmaker said he referred to media reports and books such as Shankar Iyer’s Aadhaar: A Biometric History of India’s 12-Digit Revolution.
Ghosh, who is a professor of economics at Florida Atlantic University in the US, said courtesy his educational background he had a head start on the project.
The director, also known for Bengali titles Dwando, Nobel Thief and Basu Poribaar, said he got attracted to filmmaking when he was in college.
But hailing from a middle class family, education was of utmost importance.
When he got enrolled at Cornell University for his PhD in economics he started taking filmmaking course, he said.
Ghosh said Aadhaar, like his previous films, has nothing to do with economics, but the subject helped him have a larger understanding of the story.
“It was not a conscious choice that when I make my first Hindi film it will something like this. It just happened. I enjoy my job as a professor also in the US. It gives me a certain perspective for writing my screenplay and what I will do in my films,” he said.
The film will hit the theatres on December 6.
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