Sanjeev Jha is on cloud nine. His first credited work as a writer, Pyar Tune Kya Kiya which was aired on television years ago, has made its way to Netflix, and his first feature film, Jabariya Jodi with Siddharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra in the lead is all set to hit the theatres on May 17, 2019.
For this Bihar-born boy, writing happened quite naturally.
“My maternal grandfather Ramesh Chandra Jha was a freedom fighter, novelist and poet, and his influence loomed large during my growing up years. What started with reciting his poems has culminated into writing for a living today,” he says.
Jha landed in Delhi in 2005 and joined Jamia Millia Islamia to study Hindi literature. “I graduated with a gold medal from Jamia, and started working as a freelance journalist. I wanted to join FTII, but did not qualify. So I started writing and reading as much as possible and watching cinema from all around the world,” he recalls. A movie buff, he used to take a DTC bus from New Friends Colony to get DVDs on rent from a shop in Munirka. “My Delhi days were tough, but I learned everything from Delhi and in Delhi,” he quips.
Then Mumbai happened and he started looking for work as AD but wasn’t lucky. Later, Vikas Gupta offered him work and he went on to script many episodes of Pyar Tune Kya Kiya and Code Red.
“Soon after I met Prashant, who has directed Jabariya Jodi, and Shailesh R Singh. With Ekta Kapoor, Sidharth and Parineeti coming onboard things fell into place. Writing a story that you want to tell is the biggest challenge, but writing it without pleasing anyone is tough,” he quips.
Jabariya Jodi is based on the issue of forced marriages that are quite prevalent in Bihar wherein a boy is kidnapped and then married off forcibly by the girl’s family. “Marriages are forcibly held at gunpoint, even today. In fact, you will be shocked to know that according to data, more kidnappings occurred in Bihar for forced marriages than ransom,” he says.
Appreciating the film’s actors he says, “Both Siddharth and Parineeti are brilliant. I was overwhelmed to see them essay the characters that I have written, Abhay Singh and Babli. Even the supporting cast is strong.”