Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: This time she did it for the sake of tourism in Rajasthan. Bina Kak, former Rajasthan Minister for Tourism, can rightfully claim that the latest Bollywood film she has acted in is through and through a promotional movie on the State’s picture postcard tourism destination, Jaisalmer.

Ms. Kak claims that “Nanhe Jaisalmer”, the third film she has acted in after debuting in Salman Khan-starrer “Maine Pyar Kyon Kiya”, is the biggest contribution of the film industry to the golden city of Jaisalmer after the Satyajit Ray classic “Sonar Kella” (The Fortress).

“It is branding a place. After Sonar Kella, this film gives maximum exposure to this jewel of the Thar desert,” says Ms. Kak, who has signed up for three more films, including one -- “Dulha Mil Gaya” -- with Shah Rukh Khan and Fardeen Khan.

“Strictly speaking, it is not a commercial film. It supports programmes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and adult education,” she observes.

“The film is full of breathtaking shots effectively captured by the camera of Vinod Pradhan. The beautiful Gadisar Lake, the Sam and the Kudi villages... It is Jaisalmer undiluted. The golden fort, the wispy sand dunes and lilting desert music… the film is going to be the publicity window for Thar region,” she asserts.

Tax-free status

Understandably the Rajasthan Government has granted tax-free status to this tale of a little tourist guide unfolding in 12 reels. The hero of the film is Bobby Deol, while there is no heroine.

While Ms. Kak is Salman’s face-slapping Punjabi mother in “Maine Pyar Kyon Kiya”, in “Nanhe Jaisalmer” she is a sober aristocrat -- perhaps a queen, going by the trappings. Nanhe, nine-year-old boy who dreams of meeting film star Bobby Deol, refers to her as “Madamji.

And this Madamji is into literacy programmes and night classes. The roof of her palace -- converted to a heritage hotel otherwise -- gets transformed into a classroom with men, women and children trooping in when the howling winds outside settle down to a hushed silence at night.

No remuneration

“I wore my own clothes while acting in the film and also did not charge anything. Bobby Deol also wore his own clothes contributing to the cause,” reveals Ms. Kak, who failed to retain her Sumerpur Assembly seat in Pali district in the last elections.

Nanhe, as any fun-loving kid of the desert region who earns from tourism, is a reluctant customer. His argument is that education is for earning money and he does it already. His dream is to meet Bobby Deol. Madam-ji finally initiates him into studies with the argument that tourism is a seasonal occupation in the desert and if a season fails he should have other avenues for making a living. That works. Nanhe takes up studies to become Vikram Singh, the writer -- and a Booker Prize winning author at that!

“I can’t have many more films as I have to concentrate on politics,” observes Ms. Kak, who has the next Assembly elections in Rajasthan, due next year, in mind. “Acting in films has been a great experience. That has got me closer to the public,” she says. Surely, it is not the end of theatrics for her.