Rags to reel: Meet Shah Rukh Khan's ragpicker fan who turned filmmaker

  • Collin Rodrigues, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 13, 2014 17:43 IST

When Kalyan Jana moved from Midnapore in West Bengal to the big, bad city of Mumbai when he was just 15 (in the year 1998), he was a homeless ragpicker on the streets of Juhu. But he wished to do something many would call outrageous. Someday, he wanted to make a film. Now, 16 years later, he’s released a small film in which he also acts, convinced other actors to work for free, and now hopes to be able to help children in need with whatever he earns from it. Not for nothing do they call Mumbai the city of dreams.

Jana says he’s been saving money for the last 16 years, with the singular aim of making this film. "Dhund Lenge Manzil Hum is based on my life," he says, adding, "I want to use the profits it generate for the benefit of children who are mentally challenged, suffering from cancer, blind or handicapped." Released this Friday, Jana’s film is being screened in a few theatres in Vashi and Bhandup. However, Jana says the film will come to a few more suburban theatres on October 17. He’s also meeting Ram Naik, the governor of Uttar Pradesh, in the hope of getting a tax-free release in the state.

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Veteran actors like Raza Murad, Mushtaq Khan and Ramesh Goyal did the film for free. "I only had to pay them conveyance to come for the shoot," Jana says.

Revisiting his initial days in the city, he says, "I was illiterate, so no one would give me a job. That’s how I started collecting bottles and cans from the streets. I would earn Rs. 20-Rs. 25 a day, enough to buy me a meal."

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He went on to work at a flower seller’s stall, helped with decorations at weddings, even managed to learn dance and then give lessons for a while.” Ask Jana about the one actor who’s been an inspiration, and he says, “I’m a huge Shah Rukh Khan fan. I’ve learnt acting from his movies. Every year, on his birthday, I wait with a bouquet of flowers outside Mannat (Shah Rukh’s Bandra residence) in the hope of meeting him.”

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