-Mukul Vikram, writer and director - film "Aakhir Palayan Kab Tak"
There has been a lot of change in cinema in the last few years. Many filmmakers are making films on social concerns as well as on those issues that are related to the common man. But of which the common man himself is not aware, due to which a class takes over their land and their houses. And that the common man remains helpless. That means a common man is unable to do anything except crying and running away. This is the Waqf Act of 1995, due to which the Waqf Board has been given unlimited powers. Producer Sohani Kumari and writer and director Mukul Vikram are bringing the film "Aakhir Palayan Kab Tak" on what is happening to the common man under the cover of this law, which is going to be released on 16th February.
Here is an excerpt from a conversation with the film's writer and director Mukul Vikram...
On the surface, this issue appears to be a land grab. But to include any one community in it..?
-We have deliberately not included any specific community in it. If you talk about connecting the community, then the community for which it was created will not be insulted. According to the law, if they claim any part of the city as theirs, then it becomes theirs. Even if it is not theirs and every poor common man living in that area has no option left except to migrate from there. Apart from the Supreme Court, they cannot even raise their voice against this injustice.
Which event inspired you to write and direct a film on the subject of land grabbing of the poor?
-During the lockdown, we got the opportunity to write, read, and do a lot of research. During the lockdown itself, I heard that a board had shown its ownership by grabbing the High Court land. Waqf Board has also asserted its rights on Ambani's building. The interesting thing is that the High Court had to go to the Supreme Court to get its land released. So curiosity arose within me to research this and understand what this issue is. So I have been doing research on this topic for the last three years. After all, what happens to common humans? A common and poor person cannot reach the Supreme Court. We found that such poor Hindus have to flee leaving their houses, land, and everything due to the harassment of the Waqf Board and they do not get any help from anywhere. When we did a thorough research, we came to know that this is a strange law, which is the only such law in our country in the whole world, due to which Hindus have to flee their homes. The more we researched, the more we understood that this is a serious social issue related to every common person. It is very important to talk about this issue and bring awareness across the country. In my opinion, it is important to tell people what is happening to them, how right or wrong it is, and how it is happening. We believe in making films on positive things instead of negative ones. In my opinion, the aim of every filmmaker should be to entertain his audience as well as to convey some message. We have made a meaningful film.
When and how did you come to know about this law? When was this law made? Tell us openly about this.
-See, we often see boards posted at many places saying 'This land belongs to the Waqf Board'. But we don't think about it. Do we know that no citizen of the country knows that this is a law? But when we did research during the lockdown, we found that this law has been recorded in our Constitution since 1954. But in 1995, our central government amended it and gave such unlimited power to the 'Waqf Act 1995' that now the criminal and the court, because of social media, every street and locality has its hero. Both are the same. Due to the Waqf Board Act, a common man who is being harassed legitimately or illegitimately has to beg for justice in front of the 'Waqf Board' itself. A common man cannot even go to the local administration or the High Court. Yes! He is allowed to appeal only to the Supreme Court. But think for yourself, how can a person who does not have two meals a day reach the Supreme Court?
Before writing the script of the film, did you talk to any member of the Waqf Board or any victim?
-No, now everything is on the internet. Meaning everything is now available in the public domain. You will also find the fifty-page act of 'Waqf Act 1995' in the public domain. More than two dozen families of Solapur are suffering from 'Waqf Board'. 22 Hindu families of this village have migrated. Whatever is happening to the rest is inhuman. But no one can do anything. We did complete research as to where and how much Waqf Board land is there, and why this law was made. How this law was changed and all the powers were given to the 'Waqf Board'. This means that we have done extensive research before writing the story of our film. We are only telling the truth in our film. But in an interesting way. Our film does not make any speech or sermon.
Is it possible that the success of ‘The Kashmir Files’ inspired you to work on ‘Aakhir Palayan Kab Tak’?
-No...You should not compare our film with 'The Kashmir Files'. Our film is very different and talks about the rights of the common man not only of Kashmir but of the entire country. Secondly, today the environment has changed, that is why we can make such films. Maybe we wouldn't have been able to make it earlier. After the lockdown, the audience has become more aware of cinema and has started watching not just commercial cinema but also cinema like our film. During the lockdown, people read a lot on the internet while sitting at home and watching movies from India and abroad. If you notice yourself, ten years ago every film revolved around the love of hero and heroine. Or there is a hero and a villain. Both love the same heroine. In every film, the heroine was seen dancing while waving the pallu of her saree. People used to watch similar movies. This means that meaningful films were not made in that period. But it is not so now. Now cinema has started being made on serious subjects also. Now the audience is ready to watch good and meaningful cinema and listen to good things. Today's youth is curious to know what is right and what is wrong in their society or country. Now people want to watch films and not cinema. Now the audience wants to see their hero on screen.
You said that now the environment has changed you can make this kind of film. How did this environment change?
-Can be called contribution of lockdown. This is happening because of the way the knowledge of every person sitting at home has increased during the lockdown, he has seen and read different types of things on the internet. Before this, people did not get time to think about God, but the lockdown forced every person to think about his God. I am telling you about myself. I have never studied as much as I did during the lockdown days. Due to this, I was forced to think a lot about myself, my neighborhood, society, and my country. Similarly, every person has time, they work on themself and their society.
Don't you think that cinema always changes with the change of government?
-Look, there has always been political influence on cinema. Not only politics but also social thinking has an impact on cinema.
What do you want to convey to people through this film?
-Whatever I have to say, I say it while writing the script. I always like to make films based on the scripts written by me. There is no confusion in my mind during shooting.
Selection of actors for the film..?
-Look, this is a serious and serious film. For this, we needed counter-lingual actors, who would act immersed in their character. Our film is not a hero or heroine film. In this, the role of the main villain is played by NSD-trained artist Dhirendra Dwivedi, who has previously shown acting skills in many films including Paan Singh Tomar, Ishqiya, and PK. There is a Hindu family in it, whose head is played by Rajesh Sharma. Rajesh Sharma is also NSD trained and has acted in many films from 'Maachis' to now. His daughter is played by Sohni Kumari, who is also the producer of the film. Bhushan Patial, who has been associated with theater for a long time, plays the important role of a police officer in the film. NSD-trained Chittaranjan has played the role of an honest and truthful journalist, whom people had recently seen in 'Farzi'. Even before this, he has done a lot of work.
What impact will the film have on society after its release?
-There should be only a positive impact. People will be aware of the issues raised in the film. I want to say that you stay with me. 'Stay together' is enough.
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