Shatrughan Sinha turned 72 on December 9 with a grand bash at his residence Ramayan in Mumbai where all his close friends showed up. In a rare introspective mood, the actor-politician in an interview with Subhash k Jha looks back at his career with a chuckle and smile.
How does it feel to be 72?
Aapne yaad dilaya toh mujhe yaad aaya(I remembered when you reminded me). The years have just flown by. I don’t like to celebrate my birthday. It is just another day for me. But so many people remembered to call. I had an exhausting day taking calls .I was about to retire …
For the day not for a lifetime.Abhi toh interval hai abhi toh picture baqi hai(laughs). So I was going to bed when my children dropped this surprise birthday party on me. God knows where I found the energy to party all night. All my dear old friends were there.
Your dear old friend Subhash Ghai has reason to party. He has been cleared of sexual harassment charges by the cops?
But the damage was done. I don’t think anyone has the right to play with anyone’s reputation. How can a woman say she was raped and then change her mind? It just negates the whole seriousness of the MeToo movement. Such false accusations are diminishing the gravity of the Movement.
Are you saying the MeToo movement has been derailed?
I am saying women should be very careful with their accusations because there are families reputations and repercussions at stake. It is easy for reputations earned over long periods of time to be destroyed in a minute.
Do you feel the Movement has lost its momentum?
I feel it is a very important moment in time for the safety and modesty of women in every sphere of Indian life. But we must be careful of those who discredit the Movement with their hidden agendas. I’ve always stood up for the rights of women.Their empowerment means the empowerment of our society. I’ve two very empowered women at home—my wife Poonam and my daughter Sonakshi. I am scared of both.
You were quite a flirt in your times?
But no woman would ever accuse me of improper behaviour. I have always had the highest regard for women .Of course there was a lot of flirting with my co-stars. They enjoyed it as much as I did. But now I’d advise young actors to not indulge in it. Times have changed.
Your career as an actor began in 1968. This is quite a long innings. What has kept you going for so long?
When I decided to be an actor it was like a final plunge. I believe one has to excel in one or all three of the following spheres of activity: sports, education and cinema. If you can’t excel in all three, at least excel in one of these. I succeeded in one. I became an actor.And I wanted to be the best. If I was singer I’d want to be Mohd Rafi or Kishore Kumar.
You had to struggle for a long time as an actor?
At that time it didn’t seem like a struggle. It was a process I was prepared to go through. I started with bit roles in Sajan and Gambler. They were cameos. But they made a big impact. I did a number of villains’ roles which were very successful.
Yes, for the first time audiences clapped when the villain beat up the hero?
(laughs) Yes, that too happened. Then I made a successful switchover to hero’s roles in my dear friend Subhash Ghai’s Kalicharan and Vishwanath. Cinema was now a habit rather than a challenge. I got restless, and came into politics to bring a smile on people’s faces.
But your parent-party hardly gives you reason to smile?
Yes, now I am the villain in my own party(laughs). But you have to remember when I started in politics and decided to join the BJP my idols were Vinoba Bhave, Jayaprakash Narayan, L K Advani and Atal Bihari Bajpayee. The present leaders are a different cup of tea. They cannot hear the cries and pleas of the common man.
Are you joining hands with Laloo Yadav?
Why not? It can happen in the near future.I am extremely fond of not just Lalooji but his son Tejasvani also.I spent Ram Navmi this year with the Lalooji’s family.
Tejasvini is going through a marital crisis?
I wonder why his personal life is being politicized. People should leave the family to sort out their problems. Every family has its own peculiar problems. Why should Teajasvini’s marriage be discussed in public? The entire family is being made a part of a political vendetta.
What are your unfulfilled dreams?
To see Ram Rajya back in India. If not in India at least in my home state Bihar.