For a long time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, like millions of Indians, was Shyam Rangeela’s hero, so much so that the comedian started mimicking his political idol, almost perfecting the PM’s signature ‘Bhaiyon, Behno’ greetings.
With time, the equations changed. Citing restrictions on his work by a group of Modi supporters as a turning point, the self-proclaimed fan turned into a disillusioned critic.
“Halfway into the show in which I was mimicking the PM, I was asked to walk out, and mend my ways. That day, I felt that my freedom was clipped. Later, I realised that such intimidation was common. Politicians are not so generous in taking humour and criticism,” says Rangeela, who was back in limelight recently when he announced to contest against Modi from Varanasi as an Independent candidate. While he came all the way from Rajasthan’s Sriganganagar to file nomination, a technical error of “not taking oath” while submitting papers led to the cancellation of his papers, and “shattering of a dream”.
“It is disappointing but my rejection is also my victory. The cause of freedom for which I stood up got some attention,” he says, summing up his “chhoti si poll story”.
Having taken “rejection” in his stride, Shyam is busy enjoying the moment, giving interviews, meeting journalists and influencers from different parts of the world.
Sharing his ‘victim story’ with TOI, the comedian says, “Wo kehte they ki challenge ke bina maza nahi aata hai.(He used to say that life without a challenge was no fun). Why couldn’t Modi ji keep his words” he wonders, questioning his rejection. So, does he regret his decision of political misadventure?
“Haan, main toh kahin ka nahi raha. BJP wale kehte hain ki maine Modi ji ka mazak banyaya. Congress wale kehte hain main Rahul ki mimicry ki hai. Mujhe dono taraf se kaam nahi milta hai. Chunav mein bahut paisa bhi kharch ho gaya hai to ab naya kaam dhoondh ke hisab theek karna hoga,” he says while claiming that he rejected offers to join opposition candidates and target Modi from a more robust platform.
“I didn’t want to get tagged. In this way, I will prove my trollers right,” he says.
Describing himself as the product of appreciation, Rangeela remains unaffected with what trollers have to say.
“Jibes such as ‘mazak mazak mein serious ho gaya’ and ‘ghode pe aaya tha nomination bharne’ are very decent compared to allegations like my nomination was rejected because of a pending rape case against me,” he says while insisting that he will miss the love that people showered on him when he announced to contest poll from Kashi.
The Kashi’ites, meanwhile, are enjoying the “free ka entertainment.”
“Ab koi gudgudayega toh hansi toh ayegi hi. Waise Banaras mein maskharon ki kami nahi hai aur yaha par hasi thitholi ki parampara hai (one is bound to laugh when someone tickles the funny bone. By the way, there is no dearth of comedians in Banaras which has a tradition of appreciating humour),” remarked Hindi satirist and author Damdar Banarasi in the signature style.