By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Friday, September 01, 2006
He's the uncrowned emperor of Bhojpuri cinema. He recently shot a remake of Mahesh Bhatt's Naam. "It's entitled Purab Aur Paschim and has Suman Ranganathan with me. The director is Jai Prakash who did Manisha Koirala's best film Market," the Bhojpuri superstar deadpans.
It doesn't really matter who directs Ravi Kishan. And he has just shot with Amitabh Bachchan for Deepak Sawant's Ganga. "It was an unreal experience. He works so hard. When people call me the Amitabh Bachchan of Bhojpuri films, I feel my chest swell in pride."
Now in the era of re-makes when other filmmakers are re-doing Don, Sholay and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Ravi Kishan now plans to re-do Goutam Ghose's off-beat 1984 film Paar.
Says Ravi Kishan, "I'm going to produce this film purely aiming at the National awards. You see my name had been sent for the National award for best supporting actor in Tere Naam. I missed getting it. This year for the Bhojpuri popular awards, Dilip Kumar Saab gave me the Best Actor award. That whetted my appetite. I'm going to get fully into the role of the low-class pig-tender in Paar, cut my hair, wallow in mud, just like Naseerbhai....For my female audiences I'll wear a really flimsy dhoti and remain bare -bodied and wet throughout."
Doing way with his hit heroine Nagma, Ravi will sign Konkona Sen-Sharma for Shabana Azmi's role in Paar. "I'll be shooting my Paar in June-July. Amol Shetge who has directed me in Ravi Kissen where I play the double role of Ravi and Kissen will direct Paar."
Is he flattered to have a film named after him? "It makes me happy but it reminds me of my responsibility. I had reached rock bottom in my film career. People said I should pack up and return to Jaunpur," says Ravi Kishan Sukla, the reigning superstar of Bhojpuri cinema. "My first film was Udhar Ki Zindagi with Kajol in 1990....and my last appearance was as the priest in the Salman starrer Tere Naam. I must've done twenty-five odd films and TV serials like Hello Inspector and Hawaayein. This was when I was almost jobless... Then Bhojpuri cinema happened in my life."
In his career of four years in Bhojpuri cinema Ravi Kishan has done 17 films. "I may not be modest. But let me be honest. I was the only who believed there was hope for the Bhojpuri film industry. I worked really hard in every department, sitting on scripts, music sittings, casting, etc. My logic was simple: if pizzas and burgers could be packaged as Indian cinema why not mother's milk? We worked really hard, used all my contacts in Bollywood, convinced them to work at a discount," says the hero from Jaunpur in UP.
"It wasn't easy. But it happened. Gradually Nagma came into the picture. Our first film Panditji Batayeen Na Biyah Kab Hoyee became a major hit. The song Lenga uthai remote se ....was a rage"
He blushes, "In Bhojpuri cinema we can't show cleavages and smooches. But we can play with words. Middleclass women in Bihar and UP love me and my antics. They find me very hot....tall, dark and handsome. My wife does get insecure. But she now understands that I've no appetite for the naughty stuff. I love cinema like a mad man."
So how does this 34-year old actor with three kids cope with Bhojpuri-speaking women propositioning him? "Firmly, respectfully and with no hard feelings."
Ravi sobers down. "The credit must go to Mr Mohanji Prasad, the godfather of Bhojpuri cinema. When I was at my lowest ebb in Hindi cinema he offered me a film called Saiyyan Hamar. To everyone's surprise it became a silver jubilee hit. Six months after its release I had no work. And then the offers started pouring in. All my Bhojpuri films were hits ...But I've seen the darkest of days. I can take this success in my stride. Now all my dreams are coming true. I've just worked with the God of acting Amitabh Bachchan. I'm working with another God, Dilip Kumar Saab as script-writer and Saira Banuji as producer in Ab To Banja Sajana Hamaar. We've just completed the script."
He feels too many of his Bhojpuri films are being released one after another. "I want the flow to slow down. But the distributors don't want to listen to me. It's so stupid. The Bhojpuri film industry isn't going away anywhere."
Ravi shoots five scenes a day, and has twelve films on hand. "We shoot generally in Bihar and UP. But now with the industry doing well we've started shooting abroad. We shot a film produced by Udit Narayan in Mauritius. Then we shot in Britain. I did a Bhojpuri film with a British co-star. Purab Aur Pachchim will be shot in Portugal. We now have Bhojpuri films going to 54 countries including West Indies, Surinam, Fiji....Only one of my films Gangaji San Pawan Pritiya Hamar about widowhood wasn't a hit. It was experimental. I guess one needs to do something different once in a while, like Paar."