Filmmaker Prakash Jha on Monday announced he is set to direct a multilingual series on former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao titled Half Lion. The biographical drama is based on the book of the same name written by Vinay Sitapati. aha Studio and Applause Entertainment have come together to mount the series, which will be released in Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil in 2023.
Jha, known to helm acclaimed sociopolitical films like Gangaajal, Apaharan and Rajneeti, said hardly a small percentage of today's generation knows about Rao, the "man who changed India". Rao served as the Prime Minister of India from 1991 to 1996 and is credited for major economic reforms in the country during his term. His term also saw the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, which led to Hindu-Muslim riots in December 1992.
"He gave India the economic independence which we had struggled for close to 45 years. He brought about changes, systems in our polity, economy, society and everyday life in our country which now is completely irreversible. "We are what we are today, because of those five years. In every way, good, bad or ugly, whatever you say, but we are the product of those five years," Jha told reporters.
The filmmaker said Rao's greatness was that he never took any credit for the economic reforms he brought and rather gave credit to the then Finance Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, former Prime Ministers Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and the Indian National Congress (INC). "He remained in the shadows... With the single aim to take the country forward," Jha added. The director said it's unfortunate that Rao was never given his due, but the series will put his work into the spotlight.
"Not only history, his own party, his own people have been unjust and cruel to him. But the time has come, when people have started remembering him, and started talking about him. I hope we will have a small part in telling his story, so that he gets his due and generations remember him," he said. Rao passed away in 2004.
Under their partnership, aha Studio and Applause Entertainment will produce four premium bilingual pan-Indian series, with their first offering being Half Lion.
Producer Allu Aravind, Promoter, aha and Managing Director Geetha Arts, said the team is excited to bring the story of Rao to the screen.
"All the economic reforms we enjoy today were started by him in 1991. What all happened during those days, we are going to bring out those stories with the series," Aravind said.
Sameer Nair - CEO, Applause Entertainment, said the collaboration builds on their vision of creating "content without borders, and beyond languages, enabling us to tell more clutter breaking stories" in future. The cast of the show is yet to be announced.