By Utpal Borpujari
Veteran N Chandra, the man who has given us blockbusters like Ankush, Pratighat and Tezaab, has recently returned to subjects reflecting concerns of contemporary times through Yeh Mera India (YMI), after several years of nondescript filmmaking that saw him helming films like Narasimha, Yugandhar and the nonsensical comedies Style and Xcuse Me.
Though YMI has not been able to leave much impression on either the Box Office or the critics, Chandra is a contended man, contended that at least he has made a film that has been able to take up a number of social and socio-political issues in one single film. The film speaks about the lives of 12 different people, representing various strata of the society in Mumbai, in one single day, and while the incidents that occur in their lives are seemingly unconnected, it turns out that all of their lives are entwined with one another in some way or the other. Using this device of interconnected stories, Chandra has dwelt upon quite a few issues, ranging from class differences to terrorism to social arithmetic to poverty within a span of slightly more than two hours.
“This is a film about biases that we all have about others in our minds, whether or not we like to admit to it or not. It is about racial, communal, caste, class, gender, linguistic and immigrant-related biases that we might practice, many times even without realising that what we are doing is wrong,” says Chandra about the film. With a talented cast that comprises the likes of Anupam Kher, Atul Kulkarni, Milind Gunaji, Perzaad Zorabian, Praveen Dabas, Smily Suri, Rajit Kapoor, Rajpal Yadav, Sarika, Sayaji Shinde, Seema Biswas and Vijay Raaz, Chandra has had a field day in directing this film. What the film suffers from is an unevenness in the narrative and a few loud scenes, but the experienced director is happy at the way things have turned out finally.
“All the issues in this film are issues of today. These are issues different from the ones that I had dealt with in Ankusha and Pratighat,” he says about the range of subjects he has covered in the film, which he combined to make one film because “I felt each issue did not have that much in itself to be made into one single film”.
Chandra has also dealt with the grey areas of human mind more in this film, as against the stark black or white characterization of his earlier films, with even the grey characters finally realising their follies. Explaining the logic behind it, the director says, “Definitely every person has some good part in him or her, however bad he or she may be. The society will survive only if the good in each one of us comes out. Unlike what is shown in Ankush or Pratighat or Tezaab, nobody is actually so black or white. In times of crisis, the goodness comes out in people, and that’s the plus point in us Indians, that’s why India is surviving. This film is about hope, and that’s what my characters show.”
The film, says Chandra, has been the result of his constant observation of politics and the society over the last few years. And though he has shot the film in over 55 real locations in Mumbai, he says that it is a subject that could be based in any place. “I feel it’s my complete film. Even Javed Akhtar told me that it’s my best work yet,” says Chandra, who is already toying with a few more ideas for his next project.