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Joshi ho!

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The long and short of it Manoj Joshi with Khali
The long and short of it Manoj Joshi with Khali

Manoj Joshi on “Kushti”

Now, quite a well known face in television serials and films, Manoj Joshi would be seen in Kushti . It is directed by Rajeev Kumar who is a familiar name in the South but a debutant in Bollywood. The film, Joshi says, is a social and political satire with liberal doses of humour. In brief, it is the story of a godforsaken village in northern India in which two wrestlers — played by Om Puri and Sharat Saxena — are at loggerheads to become the trustee of the prestigious village temple. Interestingly, the local post office is closed for several years as any postmaster who comes there runs away for the fear of the two wrestlers. Hence, they have no connection with the outside world. “In such villages, some self promoted local politician becomes active, and I play one such good-for-nothing person called Kripashankar. He creates convenient situations to sustain himself as an important man of the village though he is a coward,” explains Joshi.

Interestingly, Joshi gets a Lalu Prasad Yadav like get-up in the film and reportedly talks like him too. “It is coincidental though the fact remains that Lalu's caricature is loved by the audiences and I think there is no harm if I have been given a haircut like him and a dhoti-kurta he is synonymous with.” Kripashankar, adds Joshi, speaks hilarious sentences to show his intelligence. For instance, he roams in the village with a three-day-old newspaper and orders the construction workers, “Bridge ko nadi ke samanatar banaiye, is chor se us chor tak nahi faltoo mein!” He also provokes Rajpal Yadav, the film's hero who plays the role of the new post master, to fight Khali to impress his beloved, played by actress Nargis. This is to impress her wrestler father (Om Puri).

Though Joshi has been seen in films for over 14 years, he feebly complains that he hasn't got any role of substance which would allow him to carry a film on his shoulders. Hence, he keeps reverting to theatre where he is active for over 25 years now. “Theatre is like yoga and pranayam for me which cleanses and purifies. Even in Hollywood all thinking actors, from Tom Cruise to Richard Attenborough, go four to eight months off in few years to concentrate on theatre for creative satisfaction,” says Joshi who was first seen on Indian TV with the famous serial Chankaya. Joshi has also been staging a play based on Chanakya for several years. “My show is in pure Hindi. I have done 30 shows in Mumbai always to full houses. I am taking it all over India, including Delhi.”

More films

For now, Joshi seems content doing a film on Bhopal gas tragedy. “It is made by a Hollywood filmmaker,” he says. Khatta Meetha by Priyadarshan with Akshay Kumar and SRK abbreviation for Sivaji Rao Khote, are other films he is working on. “ SRK is directed by Ajay Verma and Vinay Pathak is playing the title role in it,” he concludes.

RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN

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