Inspired by the Operation Batla House, which took place in 2008 against Indian Mujahideen terrorists in Batla House locality in Jamia Nagar, Delhi, the film, ‘Batla House’, traces the story of the shootout between a seven-member Delhi Police Special Cell team and suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists allegedly involved in the serial blasts of September 13, 2008, in Delhi. The Nikkhil Advani directed drama stars John Abraham as DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, who headed the Batla House encounter.
The Batla House encounter has been one of the most controversial incidents in India in recent times, and the film shows how the incident was a life-changing experience for the top cop played by John, who had to fight for years to clear his name.
John Abraham said, “To me, Batla House is not just a film about the most controversial encounter in recent times, an incident that got twisted and turned to suit different political agendas. It is a much bigger human story of DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, who went through excruciating personal turmoil in the line of duty.”
John’s preparation for the role saw him spending time with officer, Sanjeev himself and studying his character, body language and mindset. Speaking about his intense preparation, the actor said, “I spent a lot of time with Sanjeev and his wife Shobhna to understand his mindset, body language, the way he sits, stands, talks, reacts to situations and what he went through. I had a million questions for him”.
While researching for the film with Sanjeev Kumar, John discovered that not only did the event affect the police personnel’s life professionally but he also had to tackle personal demons – one of which was dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Most people suffer PTSD when they go through a life-altering situation. The makers have dealt with it as an important part of the film.
“Often in such cases, we just focus on the professional side of a person’s life, forgetting the effect it has on their mental wellbeing. The post-trauma stress that Sanjeev Yadav went through, and his struggle to come to terms with it and rise above it, make for an inspiring journey, and I have tried to encapsulate it in the character I play,” added the actor.
Continuing with that topic the film’s co-producer Bhushan Kumar said, “We have tried to bring to our audiences’ notice that our police officers are as human as rest of us, and often suffer from issues such as PTSD and other issues in line of duty. This aspect of John’s character is one of the most important elements of the storytelling.”
Adding, “I strongly felt that it is an important story that needs to be told, especially because of what happened after the encounter. It is a very sensitive case with two sides to it and we have tried to cover everything in this film and have kept it real.”
Director Nikkhil Advani said: “I’m grateful to have had the chance to fearlessly helm a film that even after a decade past the event it is based on, raises unanswered questions. I hope ‘Batla House’ is that special film which stimulates a social debate of moral and legal conscience.”
Batla House also stars Mrunal Thakur and Nora Fatehi and opened in cinemas on 15th August.