Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz is all set to release on January 12 across India. Indianexpress.com catches up with the versatile actor Ravi Kishan, who plays a key role in the film.
Q. What is your role in Mukkabaaz?
I am playing the role of a boxing coach who once had a dream of becoming a boxing champion. Due to some reasons, he could not become a boxer. Now he puts all his efforts and energy into making this young boy a boxing star. He uses his skill, pain and frustration to realise his dream.
Q. Vineet Kumar Singh had gone to Punjab and Haryana and spent almost a year among boxers there to bring life to his character. What sort of training did you go through before taking up the challenge?
As Vineet spent time with boxers to do justice with the character, I too had several sessions with the boxers. It was a challenge for me to play the role as I am a jolly and soft-spoken person in real life and you require to be little tough in the character of a boxer. At the end, my acting experience bailed me out and that’s how I managed to play this role.
Q. How did this role come to you?
I had received a call from Mukesh Chhabra’s casting office and he wanted me to do this role. But Anurag Kashyap thought I would say No to this role. Anurag ko lagta tha ki Ravi Kishan to bada star hai wo yeh role nahi karega aur bahut paisa bhi lega. He did not know that I am a big fan of his films and I wanted to work with him. Then one day I sent him a video message saying I would really like to work with you. I assured him of delivering my best. That’s how Anurag came to me with the role of the boxing coach.
Q. This is your first film with Anurag Kashyap. When did you meet him for the first time and what did you discuss at that time?
I met Kashyap ji many years ago. I know him from the time he was also a struggler. It’s almost 25 years since we first met. We met over a smoke outside Chandan Cinema in Juhu. He had just written Satya and Paanch was about to be released. Anurag was getting popular day by day after his association with Ram Gopal Varma. I talked to him and it was a very good conversation. I also became a superstar and Anurag thought I had become a huge star.
Once I met him at a mobile shop. Then I told Anurag that you have worked with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Manoj Vajpayee and all, now it’s my turn. Work with me as well. People around me would ask very often why I am not there in Anurag’s films when our schooling is similar.
Q. Till now, you have been offered small roles in Bollywood, while in Mukkabaaz, you are playing a key role. What kind of response did you get from Anurag? Did he compliment you?
Now it seems, we will be working together for a long time. We will be doing a number of movies together. Anurag said that he will be scripting a story for me soon.
Q. Now when you share a good rapport with Anurag, have you ever asked him why you were not offered any role in films like Gangs of Wasseypur?
Anurag himself told me that he thought I have stardom in me. He thought it’s tough to approach me for any role as I am busy doing films in Hindi, Bhojpuri and South Indian movies.
Q. Has Anurag Kashyap and Anand Rai offered you other projects as both are known for repeating their actors in their future projects?
Yes, it will happen. We will work together but it’s a surprise. Let’s keep it secret until it becomes something concrete. Besides, Mohalla Assi (Chandraprakash Diwedi’s film which recently received the ‘A’ certificate) is soon to be released. I am working on eight different Telugu and Bhojpuri films.
Q. Caste politics is the underlining theme in Mukkabaaz. You also come from a region where caste plays a major role in society. What upsets you personally when people flaunt their caste?
I am from Jaunpur (UP) and I am a Brahmin. Once I touched an elderly person’s feet in my village. My family members rebuked me for doing so. They told me that person was from a lower caste. When I objected, they argued saying, ‘You are Shukla, a Brahmin.’
People react depending on their knowledge. Both Raavan and Vibhishan were Brahmins and so was Sudama. They think differently.
Q. You have come from the Bhojpuri film industry. You are doing fairly well in Bollywood and other regional film industries. While other regional films are getting acknowledged at International film festivals, Bhojpuri cinema is suffering from substandard content. What’s your take on this?
My film Kab hoi Gavna Hamaar bagged National award and Jala Deb Duniya Tohar Pyar Mein had gone to Cannes Film Festival. I am going to produce a documentary next month. And I am also working on a film Sanki Daroga which will be different than what people have seen in Bhojpuri films till now.