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A nice man to know

RANA SIDDIQUI speaks to Mukesh Rishi, the Bad Man of Bollywood to discover he is more than a shade different in real life.

Photos: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Mukesh Rishi...A trusted actor.

A GUN-TOTTING terrorist, an angry policeman, a Muslim patriot, a Jihadi from Pakistan: these epithets fit Mukesh Rishi, when it comes to reel life. And barely has he been able to break free from his eternal devil image in most films he did. Though in his runaway hit "Sarfarosh" he proved that he has more to himself than just brawn and brawl. In "Dil Pardesi Ho Gayaa", released at theatres this past week, he is the same fuming muscleman with a destructive mission! Rishi tries to justify, "Evil is always the same, hence the role. But it depends upon the villain how he plays it." He is at Delhi's Delite Cinema to talk about the film with Saawan Kumaar.

This Jammu-based actor who was more a sportsman than an academically-inclined graduate of the Government College, Chandigarh, has a point when he says, "We villains are very handicapped while a hero has the support of the music, song, heroine and other cast. For nstance, his family in the film. Even if he is playing a negative shade, he will still sing, dance and he basically turns a bad man for some valid reason but we are just baddies, naturally. So we have to be absolutely dependent upon our performances for some claps among the audience."

Acting for him was "a discovered factor". He knew that he had to do his family business of transport when he was studying, so he took little interest in academics. But the twist of fate came when he went to Fiji Island where he met his wife and they together went to New Zealand. "Here an advertising company approached me for modelling for I looked huge and handsome according to them." Rishi did modelling and fashion shows for around two years here. "It was only here that I realised what I wanted to do." By the time, he came to Mumbai in 1998, he was sure of his goal: acting. A little bit of acting in modelling days only fired his desire of becoming "a trusted actor than a star". He took acting classes from Madhumati and Roshan Taneja's acting schools but found that "acting cannot be taught but it is the emotions that extract the actor out of you."

"I am basically a very emotional person," he confesses, "I cannot speak my heart out very quickly, acting gave that platform to express myself. Some films just change your life." And among those he counts "Kahoor: Aik Toofan" directed by Shibu Mitra in which he is playing a 75-year-old man and a film by Boney Kapoor called "Rang" and some films in Tamil and Telugu. "I am a very popular actor in South Indian films," he boasts.

This "home bug" and a father of two children aging 13 and two, is clear about one thing in life, "I will never knock at a producer/director's door to tell him that I am a good actor."

Did someone say that he does not need to!

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