Filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, who has taken a satirical look at the country's medical system, education system and religious superstitions in his movies, says his "voice takes a backseat" when it comes to expressing views on social issues. However, he believes in making strong statements with his films.
A writer, editor, director and producer, the man with many talents, Hirani is also particularly careful about his words in the social media age.
"I have to be careful in what I speak because I don't know how I will be quoted. So, unknowingly my voice takes a backseat because if we speak, people will start thrashing us on social media, " Hirani told IANS while promoting his new production "Saala Khadoos" in an interview here.
In fact, he says that it was a case of being "misquoted" that landed his close associate and "PK" star Aamir Khan in a controversy following his remarks on intolerance in the country.
"I feel he was completely misquoted. There was no reason to pick up one sentence from an hour - long speech and quote it. Aamir clearly said how he felt distressed when his wife said something like that (about leaving India). But he was quoted in a hugely different way.
"Also, when such a statement goes out, the whole nation perceives it in the same manner. Nobody has the time to investigate, go back to the interview and hear what Aamir has said. People pick up what media writes, so somehow I feel that media is hugely responsible for this. I don't think it was fair on Aamir as he has done good for the nation, " added Hirani, who also worked with Aamir in "3 Idiots".
It is this reason why Hirani chooses to talk with his films. Whether it's the "Munnabhai" franchise, "3 Idiots" or "PK" - - his combination of entertainment with a message has invariably pulled in a large audience.
"I prefer to put my opinion through films to talking about it. I took bold steps when I made films like 'Munnabhai M. B. B. S', 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai' and 'PK'. . . I will talk about everything through my films, " he said.
The National Award winning filmmaker does not feel that his films will change the nation, but he feels it could "change a few individuals for sure".
"If someone watches great cinema or reads a great book, they get affected by the thoughts, and that's how change happens. I came across lots of students who after watching my films came to me and shared their opinion.
"They say how great the film ('PK') was and how it changed people's views. It made them think why are we fighting on religion?" he added.
From another section of society, reactions to "PK" weren't too positive, and it was claimed that the movie was disrespectful to Hinduism.
Hirani wonders "who is responsible for this!"
"A few sections of the media are also the reason behind many preconceived notions and, on top of this, there is social media. There is so much of venom which is being thrown on the social media and most people start sharing irresponsible messages. It's very strange to see such things, " he said.
While he said that "there is no one person or politician who is doing this", he's "afraid that after eight to nine years, we will end up creating communal disharmony for our future".
"Most of the issues are not at all related to communal things, but it ends up being one, " added the filmmaker, whose "Saala Khadoos" has been applauded by the film industry and audiences alike.
(Nivedita can be contacted at nivedita. s@ians. in)