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'I ate 160 paans during the shooting'

March 28, 2024 16:29 IST
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'Netflix is very happy with me. Mamla Legal Hai has opened the big bazaar in the heartland for them.'

IMAGE: Ravi Kishan in Laapataa Ladies.

After getting high praise for his cop act in Laapataa Ladies, Ravi Kishan will be seen in the titular role in Mahadev Ka Gorakhpur.

"As you know Gorakhpur is my constituency. And I am a Shiv bhakt. So we wrote this film Mahadev Ka Gorakhpur for me. It is a Hindi-Bhojpuri bilingual. I hope to revive the old glory of Bhojpuri cinema with this film," the Lok Sabha MP from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh tells Subhash K Jha.


IMAGE: Ravi Kishan in Mahadev Ka Gorakhpur.

In his 33 year career, Ravi Kishan has dabbled in Hindi, Bhojpuri and even South Indian films.

But nothing can compare with the recognition he is getting for his role as the paan-chewing, morally ambivalent cop Shyam Manohar in Laapataa Ladies.

"It's destiny. God has been kind. Never in my 33 year career have I seen such praise for a performance," he says.

"Yeh to kamaal ho gaya! Main aapko ek baat bataoon? Main paan khata hoon toh Amitji (Bachchan) aa jaate hain mere body mein. How beautiful is this character!

"Daraata bhi hai, hansaata bhi hai, rulata bhi hai... I love my introduction sequence where I am listening to a lady render a thumri in my police station. Right away, the audience is intrigued. Gaana sunaane pe paise kam. Wah!"

Ravi is all praise for Director Kiran Rao.

"She is such a beautiful soul!" he exclaims.

"She's so clear about what she wants from an actor and yet, she gave me all the freedom in the world to interpret my character as I wanted. I give her for credit for tapping my potential. Mera chaunk toh rehta hi hai. My eyes and body language add to my character.

"I ate 160 paans during the shooting. Thankfully, I didn't get addicted to it. Kiranji wanted my character to keep eating something. She suggested samosa. I said why not paan? While dubbing, I was chewing gum. There wasn't much dubbing, most of it was lip-sync. We worked in a controlled environment."

IMAGE: Ravi Kishan in Mamla Legal Hai.

Ravi also enjoyed playing the lawyer Tyagi in the Web series Mamla Legal Hai.

"He is so different from Manohar in Laapataa Ladies. I loved playing both. Mamla Legal Hai had me cast in a father-son role. Laapataa Ladies had me addressing issues as wide-ranging as corruption and women's empowerment.

"Manohar in Kiranji's film is happy being corrupt. But somewhere, he has a conscience. He encourages the girl to carry on studying even while he pockets the bribe money.

"I think most of us are grey rather than black or white. I like playing balanced characters. Thoda bura thoda achcha. Manohar doesn't suddenly turn into Robin Hood to win brownie points with the audience. He sees that the girl needs a helping hand, so he helps her. Lekin woh suddenly Bhagwan nahin bann jaata."

The praise for Laapataa Ladies has really touched Ravi.

"It took 33 years for people to realise I am worth something. I always used to get one ball and people expected I'd hit a sixer. This time, I got six balls. I was fed up of being taken for granted.

"Now, I am getting calls left right and centre. I believe production houses are writing stories with prominent characters for me. They want me to finish with the elections and start projects with them.

"Netflix is also very happy with me. Mamla Legal Hai has opened the big bazaar in the heartland for them. They dropped the series suddenly and it proved to be a jackpot.

"No one helped me to make my place as an actor. No one helped me as a politician either. Whatever I've achieved, I did it on my own.

"There is an adage in English, 'It's time to pay back.' I want to make a different to mankind as an actor and a politician."

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