Paresh Rawal has proved his mettle when it comes to acting. From comic roles to negative characters, the national award-winning actor has portrayed all the shades on silver screen. Now, he is all set to venture into the field of electoral politics with a BJP ticket from Ahmedabad East. Rawal, who rarely gives interviews, talks to HT about Bollywood, politics and Narendra Modi. Excerpts:
Why are you averse to giving interviews?
I don't like giving interviews unless I have something to talk about. Why bore people and why bore media? So far, it has been fine like that. Sirf kehene ke liye, baat karne ke liye, apne fayde ke liye (for the sake of talking and own goals) I don't exploit media. I am a low-profile person.
But now that you are entering politics, will that change?
Like I said, when I have something to talk about, I do. Everyone should acknowledge that it (media) is a very powerful weapon and shouldn't be misused. Media is doing tremendous work... At times there is an overdose (though). But it's tremendous. So it shouldn't be exploited for gimmicks. So, even now, I will let the work do the talking. But whenever there's something, I interact with media. And I will continue to do that.
There's a lot of talk about you living in Mumbai but contesting from Ahmedabad East. What would you say?
(Sighs) Sonia Gandhi is from Italy, but she is the president of Congress. I was born in India... Gujarat. I am an Indian! And India is a democratic country, anyone can stand for elections. I can also stand for elections. Simple.
So, will you shift your base to Gujarat if you win the elections?
I already have a house there, my family is also there. My wife (Bollywood actor and social worker Swaroop Sampat) has been working in Gujarat's education sector for years. She conducts workshops and trains teachers who work with differently abled children. I visit the place for about a week every month for my plays, etc. I already have my office there. So, where's the question of shifting base?
Will Bollywood take a back seat?
No, it won't. Both will remain a priority for me. I can handle both. You know, one should make mental space available for people and I have given that mental space to my people already. I am always available to them and ready to take care of people in Ahmedabad East. It's important to be mentally available for them. In this age of technology, you can always be in touch... It's only 50 minutes away from Mumbai by plane and an overnight journey by train. And I have an office and people there.
People are saying you got the ticket because you are close to Modi.
My ideology is the same as that of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which doesn't believe in a vote bank politics. It's a vision for better India. And then, there's somebody (Narendera Modi) who's working really hard and honestly for the nation, trying to resolve issues... I don't intend to make a political career, my entrance is cause-specific. I want Narendera Modi to be the prime minister.
The villages where you and Modi were born are close by. Does your rapport date back to the days when you were young?
No, not at all. I know Modi from 2006-07. But he really impressed me in 2002, when he became the chief minister of the state (Gujarat). On the very first day in office, he released Narmada water into Sabarmati. And I thought yeh aadmi kamaal hai (this man is brilliant). Ussi din pyaar mei aa gaye (I started admiring him from that day). He is an absolutely honest, pro-development and hard working person. I request people to give him a chance and give a majority to the party.
Now that you are in politics, you will face different factions, parties. Does that bother you?
I have always welcomed constructive criticism. It only makes me better. But nonsensical criticism ka jawab hame bhi dena ata hai (I know how to reply to nonsensical criticism).
You are also planning to make a movie on Modi. What would it be about?
The script is being written, it's still under development. It will be about the real man – Modi. For the past 10-12 years, he has been ruthlessly maligned by a certain section of media and opposition. Through this movie, I'd try to show the real person that he is – honest, hardworking, secular and pro-development.