INTERVIEW | Writer Sanjeev K Jha reveals the idea behind 'Jabariya Jodi'
Lucknow: In a scenario where the traditional malpractice of forced marriages is considered an accepted norm, ‘Jabariya Jodi’ promises to highlight the misdeeds of our imperfect society in a funny and entertaining manner.
Jabariya Jodi, starring Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra in lead roles, revolves around the concept of forced wedding kidnappings, a prevalent practice in parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Slated to be a high concept drama, one can’t deny that the concept in itself is a winning point for the film.
Jabariya Jodi’s writer, Sanjeev K Jha, a 30-year-old literature and film enthusiast, has gathered a lot of attention for his edgy yet romantic content. He hails from a small town of Bihar and comes from a family background in literature. His grandfather, Ramesh Chandra Jha has been a renowned poet, novelist and freedom fighter of his times.
Here Sanjeev K Jha shares more about his dwellings as a writer and his debut film, Jabariya Jodi.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey into films…
I come from a small village in Motihari, Bihar. Till 12th I was there, I completed my Intermediate from LS Collage, Muzaffarpur. Then I moved to Delhi in 2005. I did my graduation in Hindi Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
It was while securing a degree in literature that I had my first exposure to cinema. So it’s been pretty much a late start for me. But then I started reading short stories, novels and poetry and soon got immersed into the world of cinema. Thereafter, I started my career as a freelance journalist and worked with several mainstream newspapers.
In 2010 I came to Mumbai and started working as a television writer and scripted many episodes of Lost Boys Productions’ series “Pyar Tune Kya Kiya” and “Code Red”. Vikas Gupta heads Lost Boy and he is the man of our generation.
When I came to know that Balaji is producing ‘Jabariya Jodi’ I texted him and told him that you are the first person who gave me credit, he wished me back. And you know he also worked for Balaji for a long time and is still associated with the huge production company. So it’s good if you are surrounded by such houses and talents.
How did ‘Jabariya Jodi’ happen?
It’s a long story, but I can say that producer Shailesh R Singh held my script for a long time and then Balaji saved it.
How did the idea of Jabariya Jodi come to you?
Since I’m from Bihar, I know that forced marriages are a reality. Now, this is tragic as well as funny. I found this content to have an entertainment value as well as a message of awareness. The fact that these things still happen was an eye opener. That’s how I started penning down the film. An artist or a writer always pays attention to the society and culture that he lives in. So, the reality was the trigger point for Jabariya Jodi.
How common is this?
Today we know that forced marriages happen in parts of the country, but it is shocking to know the magnitude of them. I was surprised to see the official data record of criminal activities in Bihar, which stated that more kidnappings occurred for forced marriages than ransom.
It’s hard to believe that such bizarre practices happen in our vicinity even today. The data that I got from crime record bureau says that from 2010 to 2015 around fifteen thousand kidnappings happend for marriages.
Does ‘Jabariya Jodi’ carries a message for the society or is solely for entertainment?
See, I have created a comical world to entertain the audience otherwise I would have been writing a documentary film, not fiction. But yes, there are certain moments in the film that are emotional and carry a massage. But overall it’s a rom-com.
This is going to be your first film as ‘writer’. How does it feel?
Haha, this is such a typical question. I feel good that such big banner and producer have come together to produce the story I have written. I am really thankful to everyone who showed faith in my first attempt of writing. I am here on shoot in Lucknow. I will be back and start working again with full of energy.
What inspired you all to come to Lucknow to shoot the big movie?
That’s the producer’s decision. Shooting logistics matters a lot for production of a film. But off course they are creating Bihar here, a very funny, romantic and beautiful Bihar. It looks the same. There is no difference. I don’t find Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are different, Raj Kapoor saab used to called it – “Purab”, “hum purab hain purab wale har jaan ki kimat jante hain….” Lucknow is shooting friendly also.
What did you find the most alluring here in Lucknow?
Not just one but many things; the locations, the food, the culture.
How did you choose to become a writer?
I think the most beautiful aspect of cinema is writing. It can be haunting, lonely, exhausting but it is certainly beautiful. And also because I come from a family of journalists, there has always been a strong influence of literature. My grandfather Ramesh Chandra Jha was a poet, freedom fighter and novelist. He was also close friend of some poets and authors like Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Gopal Das Neeraj, Ramvriksh Benipuri, Shivpujan Sahay, Baba Nagarjun. So, I’ve grown up in a house full of books by renowned authors. I still have many letters, which are written by Bachchan ji to my grandfather. I used to play with such postcards in my childhood.
What’s your process of writing?
Most of stories that I’m writing are the ones inspired by the existing scenarios of our society and the times that we’re living in. I enjoy creating a world around a real situation. My characters are also a part of that society and undergo problems akin to reality. So it is not all imaginary. There is no such thing as total imagination. Often you draw out from your real life. So, writing is a kind of assimilation between imagination and reality and that creates a story.
Where do you write?
I’m not the kind of person who can write at coffee shops or other such crowded places. I prefer solitude and silence. When there is no noise or any sort of distraction, it is the best time to write. So, most of my writing happens post midnight. I think writing is a time when you move away from the society and think. A lot of my writings emerge from solitude and silence.
Talk about your literary and cinematic influence
There are several literary personalities who have moved me with their body of work. Specifically, I love the writings of Uday Prakash, Vinod Kumar Shukla, Kashinath Singh and Mahesh Elkunchwar. Internationally, there are many more. It will be a long list. But I’m very fond of Albert Camus. His novel ‘The Stranger’ is my all time favorite.
I think it’s important for a writer to read literature as it gives you a lot of stories and enhances your imagination. But at the same time one can’t deny that screenwriting is crafting. It’s something one can learn. I like Lajos Egri’s ‘The Art of Dramatic Writing’ and of course there is the classic text of Aristotle’s, ‘Poetics’.
In the worldwide scenario, filmmakers like Woody Allen inspire me. I’ve always been a fan of Salim-Javed and Gulzar. Of the contemporaries, I love the work of writers like Himanshu Sharma, Juhi Chaturvedi, Varun Grover, Jaideep Sahni, Ritesh Shah and several others. While scripting Jabariya Jodi, I kept in mind films like Khosla Ka Ghosla, Vicky Donor and Tanu Weds Manu, off course.
The team behind Jabariya…
Having Balaji Telefilms and Ekta Kapoor in the project is a blessing. Producer Shailesh R Singh has always been a pillar of strength for me.
I think Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra are very talented and very energetic. Director Prashant Singh has assisted directors like Anand L Rai, and a very cool headed person to handle the project. Even our supporting cast, comprising Sanjay Mishra, Aparshakti etc, is very strong. Both are brilliant you know that.
Why should the audience go to theatres to watch Jabariya Jodi?
It’s an out of the box concept. Go to watch if you want to see a ‘surprise shaadi’. You have never seen before such bizarre marriages and characters.
When can we expect the film to hit the theatres?
Producers will announce the release date soon.
What’s on cards next?
Apart from Jabariya Jodi I’ve penned down three other feature films, which should be announced by the end of the year. One for a director Indrajit Nattoji who had previously directed UTV film called ‘Aagey Se Right’.
Santosh Singh, who has been an associate to Karan Johar, will helm one of the projects. I’ve also scripted another film for an eminent director. Besides these, I’m writing a biopic novel, which will also be translated on screen as an epic drama by a big production company soon. I am writing day and night, and because of ‘Jabariya Jodi’, my moral is very high right now.
Well, we wish Sanjeev K Jha and the team of Jabariya Jodi best of luck for the much awaited project.