Mahesh Bhatt to make film on slain JNU students leader

Mahesh Bhatt and his actor-protege Imran Zahid are all set to revive their project on Chandrashekar Prasad who was President of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union and was murdered while addressing a meeting in his home town Siwan in 1997.

A film on Chandrashekhar’s life with Mahesh Bhatt as creative consultant and Ajay Kanchan as director was announced in 2010 and shelved. But now the project is being revived.

Imran Zahid who will play Chandrashekhar Prasad says, “With the ongoing JNU controversy, and the students’ ideology being showing in a poor light, it is imperative that the students of the university and their political ideology be put in the correct perspective. So it’s important to revive our project CHANDU to show the reality in the JNU campus, their struggles and sacrifices through their slain JNU leader Chandrashekhar Prasad.”

Imran says Chandrashekhar’s story is akin to what Kanhaiya Kumar is currently going though. “We were inspired by Chandrashekhar’s courage to help under-privileged people, the way he moved from one part of the country to another to achieve his mission. I think the story of Chandrashekhar will inspire young India. I think he was the precursor to Kanhaiya.”

Imran has done his homework Chandrashekar. “I paid a visit to Chandrashekhar’s birthplace, a small district in Bihar called Siwan. I wanted to breathe the same air as him and wanted to get into character. I went to Siwan by train. It’s quite a tough journey, a train ride to Patna and from there another train ride to Siwan. However, for that train I had to wait for 10 hours. Imagine the journey of a young man; all the way from this little village to JNUin Delhi, it’s commendable. Chandu jaise log kisi political discussion se paida nahi hote hain, zameen aur uskihaqiqat se paida hote hain.”

Imran feels strongly for the slain youth leader’s message. “Youth has been a buzz word in India for a couple of decades now. But there’s rarely been a better youth icon than the former JNU President Chandrashekhar Prasad (Chandu) who was brutally assassinated in 1997. In spite of all the tall claims about various initiatives for youth, the nation as a whole has failed to do any justice to the slain student leader.”

Imran feels it’s time to cry out cinematically against the injustice that was done to Chandrashekhar’s life. “Cutting across all the student unions, most student leaders and faculty members are unanimous that there hasn’t been anyone more charismatic than Chandu either before or after him. Even more surprising is the fact that there has been a massive outcry and media initiatives for ensuring justice to Jessica Lal, Priyadarshani Matto, and Nitish Katara but no one so far bothered to take up the cause of justice on behalf of Chandu who paid with his life for challenging the nexus between the criminals and politicians and bringing about a social change in Bihar.”

Imran knows Chandu will ruffle feathers and is ready to face the backlash. “The very politicians who have been in power for years on the plank of social justice are the ones who have deprived Chandu of justice. So the question being asked is whether this Mahesh Bhatt venture will ruffle feathers and put the spotlight back on those suspected to be behind Chandu’s assassination? Will there be media recognition at long last that justice needs to be done to Chandu?”

Imran is happy to have Mahesh Bhatt on board. “Most ‘real to reel’ projects are driven by commercial motives but Mahesh Bhatt has been engaging himself with a view to addressing the contemporary issue of Naxalism and Maoism as all his life Chandu was drawing the attention of the nation that there would be violent consequences if India fails to grow with equity. There is no bigger threat to India’s unity and integrity than the Naxalite and Maoist violence .What the nation is missing right now is the sanity of someone like Chandu to resolve the problem. Can we still take a leaf out of Chandu’s life and ideology to address the issues of social unrest and check the disintegration of the country into chaos and turmoil?”

Adds Mahesh Bhatt, “Well, I will be honest to say that happenings in JNU and other college campuses in the country have certainly been a catalyst for revival of the film on Chandu. It will be, however, wrong to say we are trying to do that at this point to leverage the restlessness that’s so much visible inside the campus, in courts and has been making people to lock their horns in the social media. Chandu certainly had a message not just for his fellow students inside the campus but for the wider civil society. Unfortunately, over the years following his assassination that message evaporated. It’s never been a commercial venture for me and all I wanted to revive and communicate that message. Of course, it’s far more relevant in turbulent times that we are in right now than it was when we thought of shelving the project.”

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Mahesh Bhatt to make film on slain JNU students leader

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