Friday, May 07, 2004

`Joker' is happy that `joker' is not out
PATNA: He is a Bihari by birth, a resident of Lohanipur in Patna. And an actor by profession. He is more famous as a comedian, though. Of the standard variety. Indeed, Shekhar Suman makes millions laugh --here and abroad --when he anchors his Movers & Shakers on the television.
But when this reel-life comedian himself wants to laugh, he turns to Bihar supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav in whom he sees a "court-jester" of the "very intelligent" variety.
So what happens when a comedian comments on a `jester'? You get some food for thought, not laughter. If you are sad that Laloo is not entirely down and out, so is the Lohanipur lad though a happening Laloo means more `Laloo jokes' for him.
"Minus Laloo, Bihar will certainly be a better place to live in," the small screen superstar, in Patna to regale his babuji, Dr Phani Bhushan Prasad's colleagues on the occasion of the platinum jubilee of Patna Medical College Hospital on Friday, tells The Times of India in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:
What do you think of politics in Bihar?
Thanks to its politics, Bihar has maintained its consistency about degeneration --degeneration on all fronts. Politics has boiled down to power syndrome, chairs and, of course, scams... Fodder scam was the pioneering, the path-breaking (laughs) scam.
Who do you blame?
I don't think any single individual is to blame. But people ask me, `hey, how is it possible that anyone just gets up and becomes your CM?' There must be some basic qualification to become a CM; certain amount of credibility to be at the helm of affairs. What has happened to Bihar is very unfortunate, really.
Have you ever met Laloo?
No. But I know he is a populist politician. He is like a court-jester, a very cunning and shrewd politician. He is perhaps as intelligent as a Harvard product; it is only before the public that he comes looking like a fool --in dhoti or pyjama with his hair cascading down his forehead.
Do you think his exit will make Bihar a better place to live in?
Yes, I foresee a change in Bihar minus Laloo.
But do you know that Laloo's alternative also includes three dozen criminals whom the NDA fielded in these elections?
(Pause) I don't know. But I trust Atalji. Under his leadership, Bihar will surely be a brighter, better Bihar.
Will you join politics to rescue Bihar?
Never. With too much of muck around ... No, no. I am scared to lose my righteousness.
So, even though you love Bihar, feel proud to be a Bihari, Bihar and Biharis will never get your help in coming out of this muck?
A home is a home is a home. I may. But only when I am convinced that politics can accommodate right- minded, well-meaning people.
Till then...?
I can only pray for my state and my people.
Talking about your shows, do you think you are the Eddie Murphy of India who laughs on his own people to make others laugh?
That's what I call `negative advertisement'. It makes people look for the positive side of the state.
Why didn't you ever invite Laloo to your show?
We tried but the dates could not match. But we will love to see him with us...
If Laloo is out, what will happen to your `Laloo jokes'?
(Guffaws) God is great. He will send more funny politicians to laugh at. But let me enjoy him as long as he is there

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