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'People refuse to believe I am not Modi'

April 24, 2014 16:14 IST

'People refuse to believe I am not Modi'

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Nithya Ramani in Mumbai

'I'm glad I look like Modiji. Had it been any other corrupt politician, I'd have undergone plastic surgery,' Vikas Mahante, who bears such a striking resemblance to NaMo, tells Nithya Ramani.

His family -- sister, brother-in-law and their children, brother, sister-in-law and their children, his mother, aunt, his wife and two sons -- are all present to witness and cherish the media attention showered on the new celebrity of the house.

Once you set your eyes on Vikas Mahante, it difficult to believe that he is someone else other than Narendra Modi.

Though it was not a conscious decision to grow a beard over two years ago, this Mumbai businessman now grooms himself to look, behave and speak like NaMo.

Please click NEXT to read a lively interview...


Photographs: Vikas Mahante

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'I'm glad I look like Modiji. Had it been any other politician, I'd have done plastic surgery'

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Nithya Ramani

How does it feel to be called Narendra Modi? How are you coping with the fame?

Despite looking almost like him (Narendra Modi), I cannot call it my identity.

I'm a common man. My face resembles that of Shri Narendra Modi.

I'm glad I look like Modiji. Had it been any other corrupt politician, I'd have undergone plastic surgery.

I am constantly surrounded by people when I walk the streets. Some ask to take a photograph with me, while others want to shake my hand.

Some even ask for my autograph and I wonder 'Signature karoon toh kya karoon? (Who do I sign as when asked for an autograph?).' (Laughs.)

You met Mr Modi in Gujarat. What was the experience like?

Everybody wants to meet him and so did I. I got a chance to meet him through a friend who works on this campaign.

I stood in a crowd and waited my turn to meet him. I wanted to see how he looked.

As he was talking to the others, he saw me.

He could not believe his eyes. I was then introduced to him. He looked at me from top to toe and asked how I could help his campaign.

I was spellbound. I was awestruck with his presence, face and personality. I couldn't answer him then.

I believe what I am doing now is my answer to his question.

Please click NEXT to read further...


Image: Vikas Mahante with his family before he 'modi-fied' himself.
Photographs: Vikas Mahante

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'I watch him daily on TV and his mannerisms and nuances get imbibed in me'

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Nithya Ramani

Was it a conscious decision to grow a beard and look like Narendra Modi?

I decided to grow a beard two years ago -- just like the next person who wants to try a new look.

It was around the same time Modisaab started his early campaigns and he was across TV channels.

When I used to go out, people started calling me Modi. Initially, I didn't think it was right to be compared to him.

It wasn't a conscious decision. For example, I hardly wore a kurta pyjama. I would only don a traditional look during functions as it is our sanskriti (culture).

After the initial recognition, I stopped wearing kurta pyjamas. Then I realised if people love me so much, I should reciprocate by wearing it more often.

Especially since the elections are here, it would come handy, because if there is a worthy candidate for the position of prime minister of India, it is none other than Modisaab.

If what I do contributes to making that come true, I will consider myself lucky.

Have you made any special effort to look, speak and behave like Mr Modi?

No. This is totally original. I watch him daily on TV and inadvertently, his mannerisms and nuances get imbibed in me.

There are lots of times when people refuse to believe that I am not Modiji.

At rallies, when people get to know that I am not Modi, they thought it was a campaign stunt to manage crowds and keep them away from me.

They said it was a strategy to figure out if all the hype around Modi was true.

How is your family reacting to all this?

They will be the best to answer this.

Shubha Mahante: When he decided to grow a beard, I was against it. I didn't like it one bit.

Of late, whenever we go out, I find people approaching me and asking if he is Modi or his twin brother. It has sunk in now. I have accepted the change and am happy for him.

Did you think he looked like Mr Modi when you saw him with his beard?

Shubha Mahante: No. I didn't think he looked like Modi. Even now I feel he looks only 80 per cent like him (Modi).

Do you fear for his safety?

Shubha Mahante: Yes. When Modi came to Mumbai six months ago, he was delayed at the airport. But everybody thought he (Vikas Mahante) was Modi and surrounded him at the rally.

I feared the crowd might get out of control and he might get injured. But he was well protected and dropped home with maximum security. It felt good to see my husband come home with guards and security.

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Photographs: Vikas Mahante

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'Some people threw stones at me. But I'm not scared'

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Nithya Ramani

Were you ever involved in politics?

No. Politics mera field hi nahin hain (politics is not my field). It never occurred to me that I should enter politics. I am just an aam aadmi who goes to work, comes home and spends time with his family.

Now that people are so hopeful about Modi, the little I can do -- given that I look like him -- is to go out there and campaign for any candidate who might be weak in his constituency.

I believe this is my civic duty and my responsibility.

Who approached you first to help with their campaign?

I was first invited for a chai ki charcha at Dharavi (north central Mumbai).

I know a few people in the Shiv Sena and BJP. When they approached me saying that I look like Modi and if I joined them in their rallies and campaigns it will be very helpful.

I gave it a lot of thought and then decided that I should help them.

If with my help, they win the elections, I will be happy.

When I went for my first rally, there was tremendous response. Once the ball set rolling, there was no looking back.

How has your personal life changed?

It has changed a great deal. I am unable to leave home without heads turning to look at me.

It does feel a little intrusive and difficult at times, but equally good too.

Do you fear for your safety? Have you faced any security issues so far?

Not exactly. I did encounter a problem once, in Dharavi during the chai pe charcha campaign, when some people threw stones at me. But I'm not scared.

Ek vision leke chala hoon ki unko PM banana hain. (I am steadfast with the vision of making him PM). So that keeps me strong.

We'll face whatever comes our way.

Will you enter politics, given a chance?

I haven't thought of it. If I'm offered a good position with respect and responsibility, I might consider.

How has this affected your business?

Positively, I would say.

I own a metal parts business. It is going on as usual, but a few payments that were pending or delayed got cleared faster than anticipated. (Laughs.) And we have started getting more orders too.


Photographs: Vikas Mahante

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