Prakash Jha: Saif has universal face, no problems with Ajay

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By Hindustan Times

When the cast of Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan was officially introduced, one immediately noticed that his favorite Ajay Devgn’s absence in the line-up. But another National Award-winning actor, Saif Ali Khan, has been roped in for the movie revolving around reservations in education. Reportedly, the director was keen on roping in Devgn but he wasn’t too enthused by the role. It’s learnt that the actor didn’t want to take chances in another ensemble film after his role in Raajneeti was edited, resulting in the character suffering an inappropriate representation in the story.

Jha says, “Saif has a universal face. He has played a romantic character (Hum Tum, Love Aaj Kal), a prince (Eklavya), a terrorist (Kurbaan), a brilliant Langda Tyaagi in Omkara, very convincingly. He fits the role of the brilliant student from a backward caste in Aarakshan,” asserts the director. As for Devgn’s absence, he says, “Ajay is there in the film, lekin woh adrishya hai (but he will be invisible).” The film, produced in association with Firoz Nadiadwala, also stars Amitabh Bachchan, Prateik, Deepika Padukone and Manoj Bajpai.

Denying reports of friendship gone sour, Jha reiterates, “Ajay and I have always worked together on the right subject. And I’m certain we’ll team up again for another right movie in the future too.”

Saif denied that his winning the National Award or being a Padma Shri awardee influenced him to sign on the film. “When I like a script, I ask myself if I’d like to see the film even if I weren’t in it. If the answer is yes, then I do it,” he says the actor, who’s currently working on his production, Agent Vinod.

Ask if being a politician himself has had advantages and Jha admits, “I’m not a politician. But yes, I’m politically aware and I use that awareness in my scripts.” So, will his movie will suggest a solution or two? “When you make a film on a realistic issue, it’s natural to include possible solution to conflicts. But reservation is an issue to which there’s no end.”