The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lalooland skeleton on Bollywood screen

Patna, Dec. 25: Laloo Prasad Yadav has always been good fodder for dream merchants.

Now another Mumbai filmmaker has decided to dip into the well of the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief’s life and times.

Insaaf is the latest in a line of TV serials, programmes and films showing characters either inspired by Laloo Prasad or his party-ruled Bihar.

Unlike most earlier attempts which poked fun at “Laloo raj”, Shrey Srivastava’s Insaaf is supposed to be a political thriller.

If Mahesh Manjrekar’s movie in the making, Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav, is a funny love story, Insaaf is a grim tale reportedly based on the life of a Bihar IAS officer whose wife was raped, allegedly by a politician’s son.

According to Srivastava, the senior IAS officer’s life has merely inspired the film. It has moved away drastically from real life incidents, he said.

Ibrahim Kabir, the counsel for bureaucrat B.B. Biswas’s wife Champa, however, doesn’t think so. He said the filmmakers didn’t seek his client’s permission. “We had always wanted to see the screenplay,” Kabir said.

Two years ago, the film’s producer, Showman International, and the director had a row with Biswas. The bureaucrat, who was later transferred to Jharkhand, had threatened to sue them for trying to put his life on celluloid.

The threat dissuaded the filmmakers from making any direct reference to Biswas’s life or his wife’s rape.

Biswas died this year in Delhi. So the filmmakers have now decided to add some “appropriate” pathos to their story.

An apparent take-off on the story of the rape — allegedly by politician Hemlata Yadav’s son Mrityunjay — Insaaf will star Sanjay Suri as an IAS officer, Namrata Shirodkar as his wife and Shankar Dayal Singh as the villain. Dayal is employed with a central government undertaking in Mumbai.

Hemlata, an RJD member active in politics during 1997-98, was said to be close to Laloo Prasad. Mrityunjay — who has penned a rather patronising biography of the RJD chief — allegedly used his mother’s clout to get friendly with Biswas.

This let him get close to Biswas’s wife, who he allegedly raped and then blackmailed. The incident had provoked outrage among Opposition parties in and outside Bihar.

Recently, a lower court convicted Mrityunjay of rape. He has now appealed to the high court.

In Insaaf, the protagonist is an IAS officer who seeks justice for his wife, a rape victim. The rapist, a politician’s son, blackmails the woman and keeps exploiting her physically till she tells her husband, provoking a violent climax.

The film, with its shooting almost wrapped up, is scheduled to be released early next year. According to Srivastava, Insaaf was earlier called Bandhak. “We changed it because the new name suited the theme better,” he said.

The theme, however, has some resemblance to that of Shool, in which Manoj Bajpai played a police officer pitted against a powerful politician, allegedly inspired by Laloo Prasad.

Far from the attention the film is drawing, Biswas’s wife and children have retired into a low-profile life. Srivastava said she would have no problem when the film is released.

“Mrs Biswas won’t complain for this film has little resemblance to real life,” he said.

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