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Prakash Jha

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The Ace of Champaran

Prakash Jha is a man with a mission. Nietzsche once said that a philosopher is born of his perspective, not the other way around and Jha (57) — born in Champaran, Bihar is evidence of this. His oeuvre — socio-politically charged films like Damul, Mrityudand, Gangaajal, Apaharan and Rajneeti bear witness to Jha’s passion for the psychology of politics. His latest work, Aarakshan forced a re-examination of the volatile issue of reservation in the minds of its audience, a difficult job in an industry where cinema is usually synonymous with escape and fantasy. One of the few filmmakers in India who understands the currents of caste, violence and patriarchy that tug at the political psyche, Jha is also the chairperson of Anubhooti, a society that works for cultural development, disaster management and improvement of health care in backward regions of Bihar.

The 59-year-old’s diverse roles as director, dialogue writer, producer, editor, writer and occasional actor have won him a total of nine National Film Awards, including one for his documentary Faces After the Storm.

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