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

Manoj Joshi on his latest film“Kushti”

A well-known face in television serials and films, Manoj Joshi plays his first meaty role in Bollywood in the film Kushti. Directed by Rajeev Kumar, a familiar name in the South, but a newcomer to Bollywood, the film is a social and political satire with liberal doses of humour. It takes viewers to a remote village in North India in which two wrestlers — played by Om Puri and Sharat Saxena — are at loggerheads to become trustee of the village temple. The village post-office has been closed for years as every postmaster who has come has run away fearing the two wrestlers. Hence, the village has no connection with the outside world.

“In such villages, a local politician becomes active, and I play the role of Kripashankar. He creates convenient situations to assert his importance in 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. “Though this is coincidental, the fact remains that Lalu's caricature is loved by audiences and I think there is no harm if I have given Joshi a similar haircut and he wears the dhoti-kurta Lalu is synonymous with.” Joshi's so-called intelligent dialogue is also hilarious. He provokes Rajpal Yadav, the hero, who plays the role of the new post-master, to fight Khali in order to impress his beloved (Nargis) and her wrestler father (Om Puri).

Though Joshi has been seen in films for over 14 years, he says this perhaps is his first substantial role. It also explains why he has been active in theatre for over 25 years. First seen on television in the popular serial Chanakya, Joshi has been staging a Hindi play based on Chanakya for several years. “I have done 30 shows in Mumbai and to full houses. I am taking it all over India, including Delhi.”

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

RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN

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