Ravi Kumar initially set out to make a small, independent movie on Bhopal gas tragedy but the director said the canvas of ‘Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain’ kept getting bigger as he realised the story behind the disaster needed to reach a wider audience.
“As filmmakers we have a moral responsibility to tell real stories. It is a story that should be told cinematically and on a bigger canvas. It is not an isolated incident, we see similar chain of events everywhere. We can learn a lot from Bhopal to ensure that another Bhopal does not happen ever again,” Ravi told PTI in an interview.
The director said despite the story having all the elements of a great drama – corruption, corporate greed and government negligence – filmmakers did not touch the subject as they were not keen to take risk.
Produced by Sahara Movie Studios and Rising Star Entertainment, the film has Hollywood names like Martin Sheen, Kal Penn, Mischa Barton besides Indian actors Rajpal Yadav and Tannishtha Chatterjee.
The film is releasing in India on December 5, just two days after the 30th anniversary of the Union Carbide gas leak incident.
“If this disaster had happened somewhere else, there would be many films on the subject. It was not easy for me to work on the story. I shopped around the project everywhere. For Hollywood it was too Bollywood while Bollywood thought it was too risky.
“They said nobody would like to watch so many people dying with Rajpal Yadav but I stuck with his name because he is true to the story. The reason the no film was made on the story is because people don’t want to take risks in film business,” Ravi added.
The UK-based filmmaker, who grew up in Madhya Pradesh, decided not to cast any big Bollywood star and that made it difficult for him to find a producer.
“If we wanted to make a commercial film, a big Bollywood name would have worked for us. But we did not want that veneer of gloss. Rajpal was perfect for the role and so was Martin Sheen. They all came because of the script and they all belong to the story.”
Since it is based on one of the biggest industrial disasters in the world, Ravi is aware that the film will be judged.
“When we started the film, we knew we will be judged by everyone: the survivors, general audience and the Americans. But we were clear that our responsibility was to the survives. The reason it took so long was because we wanted to ensure that we were correct and balanced in our portrayal of the incident.