| Jaya Bachchan addresses a news conference in Lucknow on Friday. (PTI)
Lucknow, Oct. 24: The contours of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s model of development are still not clear. But the new Uttar chief minister’s image-makers are out to make a splash.
Within days of the much-publicised debut meeting of the Uttar Pradesh Development Council in which Amitabh Bachchan became the state’s brand ambassador for free, his wife Jaya today promised a new Hindi film deal for the state.
“It’s ironic that though it has the largest Hindi-speaking population in India, UP’s share in Hindi film industry’s revenue is low,” Jaya told reporters after taking charge as chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Board.
Jaya was non-committal on how she would set about fulfilling her promise. “I have just taken over and till recently I didn’t even know that such an organisation existed in UP,” the actress said.
However, she appeared confident. “I do whatever I accept seriously. And for Mulayam Singh Yadav, I can do anything, anytime,” Jaya said, adding that she is the “bahu” of Uttar Pradesh.
Much to the chagrin of the reporters, Uttar Pradesh chief secretary A.P. Singh kept interrupting them as they fielded a barrage of questions at Jaya about the three-year film board, which has been reduced to a paper organisation due to lack of funds. “This time, it will be an organisation that will deliver, ” Singh asserted.
The soft-spoken actress, who replaced Union minister Shatrughan Sinha, however, chose her words carefully. “Don’t expect immediate results, but I’ll be able to tell you something in a month or two,” she said, promising to come to Lucknow more often to tone up the state film board’s operations.
The board is an advisory body of the Uttar Pradesh Film Bandhu. An active interest by Jaya would change things for the better, the organisation’s functionaries hope.
Awdesh Narain Dubey, who is in charge of the Film Bandhu office at Hazratganj, said its activities are “multi-fold” and include financing of films — over 75 per cent of which are being shot in the state. “We can finance a maximum of Rs 20 lakh to Hindi films and Rs 10 lakh to films made in prominent dialects of the state.”
The state government has so far released Rs 156.71 lakh for 11 films as grant while letters of approval have been issued for nearly 77 films.
Jaya, however, seems to have more in mind than simply financing Hindi films. “The first thing which I wish to do is to hold a writers’ workshop in the state. There are many writers and filmmakers in Mumbai who belong to this state and I would like all of them to come back to their native state for (the) promotion of (the) cinema industry here. I don’t want to make tall promises at this stage but one thing is certain that I will keep coming to the state at least once in 15 days to ensure the best promotion of cinema in Uttar Pradesh,” Jaya said.