By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kissan is in the back of the beyond of Uttar Pradesh. Jaunpur, his home constituency, is also the actor’s place of origin and birth.
“It is an emotional home-coming for me. Jaunpur is my home. It’s a very undeveloped part of UP, so undeveloped that women have to go into the fields for their morning ablutions.The backwardness of the non-urban areas of India is a shame we all have bear.”
Ravi confesses he has always wanted to return to his roots.
“It has been my secret desire and an enduring yearning to do something for Jaunpur. Now that I am in a position to be of some help because of my star status, I said, why not take the plunge into politics? It would give me the platform to bring about real changes,” says Ravi as his constituents demand his time.
“Abhi toh sona-jagna ek ho gaya hai.I don’t know when I am getting any sleep. Am I ever not on my feet? I can’t recall! I am on my feet for 22 hours at a stretch. For now it’s jeena yahan marna yahan in Jaunpur,” says the prodigal who returned to him home town to a rousing welcome.
Ravi’s entry into the Lok Sabha fray started when he received a call from the Congress high command. “One day out of the blue I got a call from Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. When they said they need me in the party I was deeply touched. At heart I’ve always been a Congress man. Yes, the party is out of shape right now.That doesn’t mean it is defunct.Rajesh Khanna had become paunchy . But he was still the biggest star ever. The Congress is Congress. And I’m proud to be associated with it.”
There was a lot of opposition to Ravi’s decision to fight the Lok Sabha elections, some of it came from very close to his home.
Says Ravi, “My wife was totally opposed to my contesting the elections. She was dismayed. ‘Tum yeh kahan nayee museebat mole le rahe ho,’ she warned me. I had to convince her that getting into active politics to help the people of my home constituency was a long-nurtured dream. Everyone I knew seemed to advise me against it. But I was sure this was the next move in my career.”
Ravi has always seen himself as a bit of a dare-devil. “When all the actors in Mumbai where running after Bollywood I chased down a career in Bhojpuri films and that too at a time when Bhojpuri cinema was a complete blank. I like taking risks. I like the smell of the unknown. How boring to do what every does. I could’ve joined a party which has a more trendy image right now. But I want to be part of the movement to bring the Congress back to its days of glory.”
The idea is to make Jaunpur an example of Shining India.
Enthuses the Bhojpuri star, “I’ve told the High Command that I want to improve conditions in Jaunpur to the extent that we see in Rai Barelli and Amethi. I want the rest of the country to feel actors are not just decorative props in politics.”
Ravi says he has a whole lot of support in the Mumbai film industry. But there is one filmmaker whom Ravi acknowledges as his guiding light during this electoral battle.
“Mahesh Bhatt Saab has taken charge of my entire campaign. He is my mentor for the elections. He is deciding all my campaign moves. I can’t begin to thank him enough for his support. There are others in Mumbai who are reaching out and will be campaigning for me. I want them to come here see the enthusiasm of the young for my candidature.The youth of this area(in UP)see me as their hope. It’s a big responsibility. But I am confident I am up to it.”