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This year’s Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) and Birmingham Indian Film Festival (BIFF) – in their 11th year – have gone online, amid the lockdown, and the opening night premiere is Prakash Jha’s film ‘Pareeksha’, which stars Adil Hussain in the lead role. The actor, who has been seen in a number of interesting roles in recent years, will be seen playing a rickshaw puller who wants his son to get a good education. caught up with the actor prior to the premiere this weekend.

‘Pareeksha’ is premiering at the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival and Birmingham Indian Film Festival, newly online, at this year. What would you say the beauty of the story is?
I always associate beauty with truth, which is an ancient Indian concept– that Truth is Divine, and Divine is Beautiful. The story of Pareeksha is based on true events. Actually the person who shared this story with the writer director Mr Prakash Jha is also a character in the film. Certain parts of the film are of course fictionalized, but truth always has the strength of somehow, churning your heart. It touches and moves you deeply.

A festival film is always a point of discussion, mostly. How would you like the discussions to go about this film and what do you imagine them being about?
I hope and wish that the discussion about this film, especially amongst the general public and the policy makers, will be to brainstorm towards an airtight, long term government education policy that recognizes the immense talent pool we have in the semi urban and rural areas of India and facilitate their education. I hope that they understand the gravity of depriving these immensely gifted poorer sections of the Indian populus. I hope the discussion revolves around establishing high quality pre-primary, primary, secondary and higher education completely free for all. It should be a universal right for every citizen of the world.

What first attracted you to the ‘Pareeksha’?
The truth and the plot of the story drew me to the film. A couple who are the poorest of the poor in India struggle to educate their child and in the process, they come to the edge of losing their dignity, integrity and emotional and mental health.

What makes the experience of having the film’s premiere at the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival so unique?
I have a very special relationship with LIFF and the kind of films that I would like to see and be a part of, are celebrated and valued by LIFF. This is very crucial for me.

You have said that good stories standout in this time of lockdown. How would you describe ‘Pareeksha’ as fitting that bill?
Good stories generally stand out during the lockdown, but also at any other time. But this is a very special and unprecedented time during the lockdown that humanity is facing, and we deserve better than good stories. For the audience to reflect, contemplate, ponder. Education is the fundamental tool to prepare the future generation to face an almost unpredictable future and is the need of the hour. I hope that we will truly redefine what education means. What kind of education will prepare the coming generation to face a world of climate change, economic instability, so forth and so on. Pareeksha deals with the issue of education being a fundamental right. thanks Adil Hussain for talking to us.

‘Pareeksha’ will be available on ZEE5 after its premiere at the festivals.