By Subhash K Jha
BOLLYWOOD: Paresh Rawail speaks to Subhash K Jha on his new role as the BJP candidate in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections
Is it true you are joining hands with Narendra Modiji in Gujarat as a BJP Lok Sabha candidate ?
Yes, it true. I’ve decided to get into active politics on Narendra Modiji’s request. I don’t know how successful I will be. But I’m going to give it my best shot. As you know I don’t believe in half-measures.
If I am not mistaken you were all set to play Narendra Modi in a bio-pic?
Yes! I am playing Modiji. The script is being worked on. It was written and then re-written. Until I feel the script does justice to his life and politics I won’t venture into it.
You are such a busy actor. How will manage to find the long hours that elections demand?
You are right.Time management would be a devil of a problem. Luckily for me, I have a good network in Gujarat. I am on good terms with some of Modiji’s party workers. They will be more than happy to help me out. They are honest people.
Would you be dividing your time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad?
I wouldn’t have to present in my constituency regularly. But at the same time I will be there far more than people expect because I have a deep cultural connection with Gujarat. At an average I am in Gujarat at least 3-4 days a month for my shows. Even without a political career I spend about a month and a half per year in Gujarat. Whenever I am in Gujarat for my shows I can put aside time to work for my constituency.
There is a generally a lot of skepticism regarding entertainers in parliament?
Why should that be? I think Raj Babbarji, Jaya Bachchanji and Hema Maliniji attend parliament religiously. As for the others, jissko kaam nahin karna hai ussko bhejoge toh phir gadbad toh honi hai.
One expects nothing less than complete dedication from you in politics?
And that is a promise I am making to you and to everyone who will vote for me. If I am voted into power I’ll be visiting my constituency more than most other MPs.
You have a very clean public image?
And I will never allow that image to be sullied.
Tell me a bit about your association with Narendra Modi?
Sabse badi baat hai ke bandaa incorruptible hai. That virtue is rare and invaluable in politics.We are not close friends. But I’ve campaigned for him. My wife (actress Swaroop Sampat) works in the field of education in Gujarat. I also do community work in Gujarat. I’ve never asked for anything for myself. You won’t find me hankering for property or other assets.I do my work with sincerity. Modiji must have seen my honesty towards my work. He needs honest people to be honest with him.
The 2002 communal riots in Gujarat are often brought up against Narendra Modi?
Let the cynics and the critics go on flogging that horse. Even the Supreme Court has cleared him. The 2002 spectre is raised only to create a negative perception about Modiji.
Will you be campaigning extensively for the BJP?
This offer to contest elections has come all of a sudden I have film commitments lined up from before. In fact I was shooting with Rishi Kapoor in Gujarat when this announcement happened. I will campaign in Gujarat. But I don’t think I’ll have the time to campaign anywhere else.The one thing that I guarantee is, whatever would be humanly possible for me to do I’ll do for my constituency.
There is a lot pessimism and cynicism in the voter about Indian politics?
The Congress had the opportunity to do a lot of good. It isn’t as if they didn’t have good people in the party. God knows why they failed. If after 65 years of governance you cannot provide drinking water to everyone then you should be ashamed of yourself.
Arvind Kejriwal has also been a letdown?
Mujhe bhi bahot ummeed tthi. Lekin jiss terah se woh naachan na aawe aangan tedha kar ke bhaag gaye…bahot bura lagaa. Why did he raise issues that he knew would have to go through proper legal channels? Just good intentions don’t mean good governance. He wasn’t what he promised to be.
Would we see less of you on screen now?
No no. Not at all. Before anything else I am first and foremost actor. Even without politics I was staying away from sub-standard work. In the past two years I’ve only taken up three projects. I will always be searching for good roles. Bahot bhookha actor hoon. I will not hesitate from taking up good film offers.
And your new role as a politician?
Kahin bhi rahun mujhse khota kaam nahin hoga (I may be doing anything, but I would never indulge in wrong-doing)