Ketan Mehta

Expressing concern over the student unrest in the country, veteran filmmaker Ketan Mehta said here that society is turning more violent and polarised now.

Mehta, known for unconventional films like “Mirch Masala” and “Maya Memsaab, spoke to IANS on the sidelines of the third edition of the Taj Literature Festival, which ended on Sunday.

Mehta, who is working on his next movie “Rani Of Jhansi”, said that the extremely liberal face of India is changing and it is a cause of concern.

“India is an extremely liberal country and its character is changing now. I am uncomfortable with that. We are witnessing a violent and polarised society now,” said Mehta, who has made a movie “Toba Tek Singh” along with six directors from India and Pakistan to mark the 70th year of Partition.

The movie will be releasing next month, he said.

Mehta’s critically acclaimed movie “Holi”, made in 1984, deals with the theme of student rebellion on the campus. Shot mainly on the campus of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune, the movie strikes a chord with the current situation in the country, said the director.

“I made ‘Holi’ in 1984 which was about internalised violence which society imposed upon students. There was a strike at FTII when I was a student there. I was reliving the experience through the movie,” said Mehta, adding that artists should resist muzzling of freedom of expression.

“If an artist chooses to play safe, he stops being an artist. As an artist, I don’t have the skill and I keep doing what I want to do,” he said.

Speaking about the India-Pakistan initiative, “Toba Tek Singh”, which is part of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s Zeal For Unity (ZFU) project, Mehta said that it’s a phenomenal story by famous Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto.


The movie talks about a mental asylum in Lahore and what happens when the two countries decide to exchange the lunatics a few years after Partition. “It is an extremely poignant story about the greatest human tragedy. Manto is the maverick of the times and Pankaj Kapur has done a great job as Toba Tek Singh,” he said.

Talking about his next movie “Rani of Jhansi”, in which Kangana Ranaut essays the role of the warrior queen, Mehta said the “Queen” actress was the best bet for the role.

“Rani of Jhansi is one of the strongest woman characters in world history. Ranaut has fire in the belly and she has the hunger to do something new,” said the director, adding that the film’s shooting will begin in October.

His next movie thereafter will be on Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor.

“I had planned three movies as a series. ‘Mangal Pandey, The Rising’ was the first in the series and ‘Rani of Jhansi’ is the second, which I am currently working. The third will be on Bahadur Shah Zafar,” he said.

Inputs by IANS