The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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One-in-three Laloo to tickle your ribs

Patna, Nov. 24: In the sun-dappled shade of mango trees in the backyard of 1 Anne Marg, the chief minister’s residence here, Laloo Prasad Yadav was deep in thought. With him were power minister Shyam Razak and a surprise visitor — director Mahesh Manjrekar.

It was 11 am. The Bihar strongman looked askance at Razak. He seemed evasive. Manjrekar looked tense. He put forth his case earnestly. Fifteen minutes later, Laloo Prasad got up and nodded. “Film karna hai' To karona. Koi dikkat nahi (Want to make a film' Go ahead. I have no problem).”

Bollywood had returned to one of its pet themes, and this time, Manjrekar was not taking any chances. He had come to seek permission for his new mission. “It is a feature film and the title will be your name,” the director said as he watched the leader’s forehead break into creases.

Laloo Prasad couldn’t have forgotten Shool, Vaastav and several Bollywood flicks where politician-villains are increasingly resembling him. To Manjrekar, the fate of Ramkhilawan CM and Family, a serial taking off on the Bihar leader, is not unknown. It had invited the leader’s wrath and is now caught in a legal tangle.

With that fear receding now, Manjrekar answered queries about Padmashri Laloo Prasad Yadav. Padmashri is the name of the heroine, to be played by Diya Mirza, and the famous name will be shared by three characters in the middle-budget (estimated at Rs 5 crore) movie. Laloo will be played by Sunil Shetty; Prasad, the director is yet undecided. “But who will play Yadav'” asked Laloo Prasad. “Me,” quipped Manjrekar.

Haan, aap ka hairstyle mere se milte julte hai (your hairstyle resembles mine),” Laloo Prasad remarked, triggering a roar of laughter. How about giving Laloo Prasad a role, came a suggestion. “Hum to acting kartei rehte hai (I am used to acting),” said the Bihar leader.

Is Laloo Prasad becoming an obsession with Bollywood' “It’s one name recognised by everybody from Kerala to Kashmir. To be brutally honest, we are using Laloo Prasad Yadav’s name for commercial reasons. We have decided not to touch his political life. Instead, we will concentrate on his mannerisms, style of talking and wit,” Manjrekar said.

Much to the relief of the Bihar strongman, this will not be a “Vaastav-like depiction of Laloo Yadav, but his sense of humour”. Padmashri Laloo Prasad Yadav will be a fun film, like Hera Pheri. “I am not new to the fun-film genre. I am trying to do something different from the existing models,” Manjrekar said. He refused to say anything more about the film, except that it will be shot in several places, including Bihar and Mauritius.

To start with, he has Laloo Prasad’s promise of help and a suggestion: begin shooting at Phulwarisharief, Laloo Prasad’s hometown. “He is a film-maker’s obsession. He has (an) answer to all the problems and he oozes confidence, disarming wit and humour,” said Manjrekar, echoing a host of others in the film industry.

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