Laloo's Filmi Fans
Laloo's filmi fan club's swelling. But some call him a 'tourist' attraction.
Politics and movies make cosy bed-fellows in India. But when bhai-infested Bollywood begins serenading Laloo Prasad Yadav, lawless Bihar's discredited supremo, you could say the synergy's really on. In the past year or so, Laloo, Indian politics' most cunning jester, is being courted by Bollywood like no other politician. Once apprehensive of even visiting his fief, plane-loads of Bollywood performers, directors and producers have been making a beeline to his fabled Anne Marg residence in Patna. Most say they're bowled over by Laloo's campy and gross-out wit.
so that controversial filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar, the latest to join
Laloo's fawning fan club, has decided to christen his forthcoming film
on the Bihar politician, Padmashree Laloo Yadav. Padmashree is apparently
the name of the flick's heroine (to be played by Diya Mirza), but it's
a clever, hard-to-beat pun. Laloo will be played by B-list actor Sunil
Shetty, and Laloo even approves of Manjrekar's choice because Shetty's
"hairstyle resembles mine". It's difficult to see how though.
So much so that controversial filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar, the latest to join Laloo's fawning fan club, has decided to christen his forthcoming film on the Bihar politician, Padmashree Laloo Yadav. Padmashree is apparently the name of the flick's heroine (to be played by Diya Mirza), but it's a clever, hard-to-beat pun. Laloo will be played by B-list actor Sunil Shetty, and Laloo even approves of Manjrekar's choice because Shetty's "hairstyle resembles mine". It's difficult to see how though.
Fittingly, Laloo too has a Bollywood infatuation, with dubious beginnings to boot. During the multi-crore fodder scam era in the free-for-all '90s, Laloo and his fodder friends allegedly flew in starlet Mamta Kulkarni to Ranchi for a private dance party. Unsurprisingly again, the starlet was reportedly paid only half the amount promised. Some years later, the fingers-in-all-pies filmmaker, Mahesh Bhatt, and his always-struggling actress-daughter Pooja Bhatt, came to see Laloo for "promoting" her film Tamanna in Bihar. Suitably impressed, they even expressed a desire to make a film on him. Tamanna sank without a trace, and the Laloo film was never made.
But Laloo's Bollywood dreams really got off the ground when his crony and power minister Shayam Rajak got married to the sister of Vikas Verma, a Mumbai-based businessman who provides security to a host of film stars. Over the years, Rajak has managed to woo a host of Bollywood stars to his tacky 'cultural' shows in Patna. Rajak's own marriage was attended by the likes of Shahrukh Khan and Sanjay Dutt who did an encore when Laloo's second daughter got married in a lavish reception. Recently, Rajak was again instrumental in inviting such fadeout Bollywood people as Chunky Pandey, Shakti Kapoor and Asrani, along with Udit Narayan, to the marriage ceremony of the sister of Pappu Yadav, the controversial independent lawmaker from Bihar.
And praise from Bollywood for Laloo seems never-ending. Some six months ago, Raza Murad, Paintal, Nagma and Bhagyashree came to Patna to participate in a 'cultural' show where Laloo dutifully turned up. The stars said meeting Laoo was a "god-sent opportunity". "Lalooji se milkar main dhanya ho gayee (I'm feeling fulfilled after meeting Lalooji)," swooned Nagma, now of Art of Living fame. Bhagyashree said that "her dream to meet Laloo has come true". But Murad's panegyrics put in the shade all other encomiums to the self-anointed social justice messiah. "A leader like Laloo," thundered Murad in his baritone, "should be the prime minister of the country." That was a tad more ambitious than his previous comment: "Lalooji is the pride of Bihar." Murad even wished that he "lived in a state where a leader like Laloo Prasad rules". Even arch political and hamming rival and Union health minister Shatrughan Sinha gushes: "If Lalooji had not been a politician, he would have been a great Bollywood actor."
Now the ramp models have joined the Laloo admiration society. Two years ago, he enjoyed the company of a bevy of models, including Manpreet Brar, at his residence and even gifted them some home-made pickles. A year ago, another gaggle of models, led by Aditi Govitrikar, made a beeline to meet Bihar's funny strongman.
What is it about Laloo that makes him such a sought-after item for stars and models? Observers say Laloo's bucolic charms, a penchant for antics like showing a foreign functionary how to smoke a bidi and a gift of the gab-sometimes tending to be tiresome these days-make him 'interesting' company. But bete noire and bjp leader of Opposition, Sushil Kumar Modi, has the last word: "Outside Bihar, Laloo is known more for his antics and drama than politics. He's become a tourist attraction of sorts. Why doesn't he use this to fill in Bihar's empty coffers by imposing a visitors' tax on those wanting to meet him?" Not a bad idea at all.
Note: ( The story was published in the Outlook Newsmagazine. We Publish this with the writer's consent.)