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Aditya Dhar: Some people believe it’s an agenda-driven film

Updated on: 15 February,2024 06:23 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mohar Basu |

Article 370 creator Dhar on submitting script to Defence Ministry for approval; asserts movie’s aim is to give ‘chronological account’ of J&K’s special status revocation

Aditya Dhar: Some people believe it’s an agenda-driven film

Yami Gautam plays an intelligence officer in the film

Less than five years after the abrogation of Article 370, creator-producer Aditya Dhar is ready with a political thriller that, he says, examines the events around the revocation of the special status that was granted to Jammu and Kashmir. A film of this nature is tough to pull off, given the sensitivity of the subject. To make Article 370, Dhar did what he did for his last directorial venture, Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019)—seek the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) approval and do due diligence.

“I was always clear that I won’t bypass protocol. For Uri, I presented the script to the ADGPI [Additional Directorate General of Public Information], and took approvals from every department at every stage. The MoD had to give us clearances. I have understood two important things—first, they give better feedback than 99 per cent of people from the [film] industry. Second, the procedures make our life easier. After that, no one can harass us or stop our shoot. You have to show them your paperwork, you have to do your homework, and if your intent is correct, they will help you out,” says the producer.

Aditya Dhar and Aditya Suhas JambhaleAditya Dhar and Aditya Suhas Jambhale

Starring Yami Gautam and Priyamani, the Aditya Suhas Jambhale-directed venture was shot entirely in Kashmir. Reflecting on how smoothly the shoot went, Dhar says, “From 2019, it has been peaceful in Kashmir. The tourism has gone up. Colleges and schools are open. There is no stone-pelting, the internet is smooth. People are seeing the good changes.”

Such a movie demands a balanced viewpoint, especially when the local sentiment on the abrogation of Article 370, in 2019, remains divided. Is he worried that some sections might be offended by the political thriller? “Our film is a chronological account of what happened. The drama of it lies in how the bureaucracy, Army, MoD and CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force] worked to ensure this operation happened peacefully. If it had failed, people would have blamed the establishment. Some people believe this is an agenda-driven film even before they have watched it. Maybe the agenda is in their head. I’ve been there before with Uri too. Every time I feel disheartened, I think of the real-life female officer on whom Yami’s character is based. A few bad words can’t dampen my spirit.”

Yami Gautam Dhar in the filmYami Gautam Dhar in the film

Being a Kashmiri, it’s evident that the National Award-winning filmmaker holds the movie, Article 370, close to his heart. Why did Dhar then pass up the chance to helm it? “I was to direct a movie in 2009, then in 2011, then in 2013 and so on. My first film finally happened in 2019. I waited for a decade to get to that point. In my early years, I [was made to feel] that my PR skills and who I hang out with mattered more than my talent. I wanted to change that. I met Aditya Jambhale during the National Awards. He told me he tried assisting in Mumbai, but wasn’t entertained because he didn’t come from a certain stratum. I saw myself in him. I want to platform people who are meritorious. When I did Uri, people didn’t see Vicky Kaushal as a star. Yami started out with Vicky Donor [2012], her career should have skyrocketed. If a star kid did that debut film, they would be at the Oscars! When this story came to us, I realised Jambhale is the right director for it. He gets the nuances of a political story. He was the most deserving person for the film, and that’s the culture I want to maintain in my studio.”

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