Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri gets candid about his much-delayed feature film and student politics
After a wait of nearly two years, Buddha In A Traffic Jam will finally premiere in theatres this May. The film, a political satire
starring Anupam Kher, Mahi Gill, Pallavi Joshi and Arunodhay Singh, by Mumbai-based director Vivek Agnihotri, is a hard-hitting campaign to strengthen the power of young entrepreneurs of India and create awareness against corruption. In a free-wheeling conversation, 47-year-old Agnihotri tells us more about the film, the idea behind it and why the project is so special to him.
Why the two-year delay in releasing the movie?
When we announced the movie, people were very excited. But since the movie is anti-intellectual and exposes
the nexus between NGOs, communists, naxals, intellectuals, academia and
media a�� there was a lot of resistance to its release. But a few like-minded people got together and are now making the release possible.
What really initiated the movie.
I am a commercial filmmaker, but Ia��m not cut off from politics. I was part of student politics. I used to do workshops on creative thinking for leadership and, in one of the workshops in ISB, Hyderabad, students came up and told me that they wanted to make a documentary on the naxal issue. I said (in December 2011), why not make a feature film so it reaches a wider audience.
Will the masses accept this movie which is different from mainstream cinema?
This is not a mass movie. This will be appreciated by those who have been affected by corruption, poverty, etc. I thought it will never get a release and so started taking it to universities. Then crowds started showing a lot of interest and endorsing it.
Tell us about the movie.
It is an autobiographical film. The story is about me. When I came out of college I was a naxal, I used to be involved in strikes and burning buses. The film has become like a documentarya��it feels like I have shot it in JNU, where I studied, and you can see a Kanhaiya in the film. In corporate jargon, anyone with an idea or an enlightening person is a Buddha. But the reason you cana��t become Buddha is because we are stuck within a traffic jam of the system and its establishment.
Tell us about your wife, Pallavi Joshi, being a part of this film.
Initially, she was more focussed on bringing up our kids, who are 12 and 11 years now. But since the moviea��s release was pushed, she got the time she needed with the kids and now has taken up other projects. She will be part of a serial now.
Whata��s your next project?
I have two scripts ready. I have adapted a radio play, called 12 Angry Men. Ita��s a world classic. The other one is on the Bofors and Emergency period. I am yet to decide which one to make first.The movie releases on May 6.
a�� Nandini Kumar