Pankaj Dheer and Nikitin Dheer, Actors

Pankaj Dheer and Nikitin Dheer, Actors

Asit Dixit and Umesh Patil |
February 19, 2019

“What do I stand to gain? Mera gain kya hai ismein (What is there for me to gain in this deal)?”

Known for assaying powerful characters like the valorous Karna in TV series Mahabharat and the villainous maniac King Shivdutt in Chandrakanta, Pankaj Dheer has acted in many TV series and Bollywood films. The son of film director C.L. Dheer, the actor is also credited with making the first ever Indian adult movie Bombay Fantasy. Although he might not have made a cut as a director, Dheer has certainly made a mark as an actor. Stepping into his father’s shoes, Nikitin has gained immense popularity as an actor, with blockbusters like Jodha Akabar, Ready, Dabbang 2, and Chinnai Express. While his father is not a social media buff, Nikitin has more than 1.13 lakh followers on Twitter and about 1.53 lakh followers on Instagram. He does not enjoy a big following on Facebook, though, where about 4000 people follow him.

Cobrapost reporters met the senior Dheer at their Goregaon residence. As we apprise him of the purpose of our visit, Pankaj wants to know what is in store for him in the deal. “What do I stand to gain? Mera gain kya hai ismein (What is there for me to gain in this deal)?” asks Pankaj with as much eagerness, smelling an opportunity to make some fast bucks while twiddling his thumbs. Asking him to quote his fee, we tell him he will have to make about four tweets a month. We also tell him why we are asking celebrities like him to do us the favour and how we would pay them: There are two grounds for determining the remuneration. One is credibility and the other is following on social media. Celebrities are a brand in themselves and if a celeb tweets or posts on an issue, it has an altogether different impact on the larger public. Accordingly, we pay them anything between Rs. 2 lakh and 5 lakh per tweet or post. But you are not required to tweet or post every day, for if all the celebrities who have agreed to come on board would do so every day people may smell a rat. Agreeing to our viewpoint, Pankaj says, “Wo toh circus ban jayega. Tweet aana chahiye bahut soch samajh ke aur bahut qayde se aur bahut time pe jiska weight bhi ho aur jiska aur jiska It should be appreciated also (Then, it would become a circus. A tweet should come in a considerate and timely manner and should carry some weight and which I mean … it should be appreciated also).”

The veteran actor is good at understanding the dos and don’ts of such business. Telling us he has never indulged in such kind of activity, Pankaj asks, “How do you pay?” We would prefer cash provided you are comfortable, we tell him. Pankaj is all gaga about getting paid in cash as he says, “I am very comfortable because in cheque I am burdened till here.” Appreciating his problem, we tell him only 10 percent of the payment would be made in cheque showing him as doing some product promotion. At this point, Pankaj asks, “And when do you pay?” We pay in advance every month, he is told. “Advance, for example, suppose you doing four tweets a month, roughly like you say … three-four whatever, so you said four tweets you fix a price then you pay me the money in advance and then in that month jo bhi mudde hain jo bhi baat hogi but usmein ek baat hogi (whatever the issues, whatever the topic we talk about but there will be one thing) I should have the liberty to say no to you on certain things,” states Pankaj, making his stance clear. We have no problem with it, we tell him. After some deliberations, his fee is settled at Rs. 15 lakh for four messages a month. “But usmein maximum cash (But maximum cash therein),” he says. Yes, we say, as we explain how he would be paid. Of this, we tell him, he will be paid Rs. 1.50 lakh in white and the rest in cash. “And we should be paid when?” he is eager to know. The celebrity digital promotion of the BJP would begin sometime around July and he will be paid in advance when his visitors would come again to get the contract signed by him, he is told. As you know, political funding is mostly received in cash, so we prefer to keep it that way. Here Pankaj explains why he prefers cash for his fee. “Because it’s better that way kyonki ye kaam ka jo paisa hai na kharche dikhana ya explain karna bahut mushqil hai (Because it’s better that way since it is very difficult to show or explain the expenses against the money we receive for this kind of work),” he says.   

Convinced that he is about to earn millions, Pankaj suggested us to rope in his son Nikitin and daughter-in-law and TV actor Kratika. We were about to wrap up the interview when by coincidence Nikitin entered the room. Senior Dheer did not lose time to brief his son about the opportunity that had come knocking at their door. “It’s a very interesting thing what they doing. So they want you also to join. I don’t know what you think about it but I said yes to them,” Papa Dheer tells his son. “You have to make four tweets a month,” he tells his son and then turning to us adds, “and I don’t know how much you will pay him.”

Now, we turn our attention on Nikitin. You will have to promote the BJP digitally, we tell him. The whole exercise has to be kept a well-guarded secret. “Haan, haan (Yes, yes),” says Nikitin. We will provide you the content which you will have to tweak in your own words. You will be paid in advance and in cash, we explain. “Okay,” says Nikitin. “You will conduct four tweets on jaise (for example) Jammu Kashmir, whatever bridge is fallen something like that. You are pro-BJP here,” chips in the Senior Dheer, to enlighten is son further. “Haan wo toh hum waise bhi pro-BJP hain (Yes, in any case we are pro-BJP),” informs Nikitin of their political leanings. Basically, it is all an exercise in image building in the run-up to 2019 elections, we tell him. “Zaroor, zaroor (Sure, sure). Even my wife she has five hundred thousand followers on Instagram,” says Nikitin, suggesting his wife’s services are available. “You know, hum sab aap agar aisa kuch chahein toh hum teenon kee taraf se bhi ek kuch kar sakte hain aisa (You know, we all three can do this if you wish).” We politely refuse saying we have to play it discreet and Nikitin understands why as he says, “Haan, main samajh gaya discreet rakhna chahte hain aap matlab baat pakad mein aa jayegi (Yes, I got it you want to keep it discreet. The secret will be out, otherwise).” You are bang on, we appreciate Nikitin.

We further tell him that content will be provided by us upon which he would have to build his tweets. It has to be done in such way as would not look like directly promoting the BJP. Dad Dheer interjects to enlighten his son, “It should look like it’s come from you. Sahi baat hai (It is fine).” Nikitin seconds his dad, “Sahi baat hai (It is fine).”

What you have to do is promote all the good work done or schemes launched by the BJP government in the past four years of its rule, we tell Nikitin. At times, you have to defend the government when an accident or an unpleasant happening comes to light. We will tell you how you would do that. Nikitin is smart enough to understand the delicate nature of the assignment, as he says, “Neutral rahte hue halka sa (While keeping it neutral slightly).”

Keeping his popularity on social media in mind, when we offer Nikitin Rs. 24 lakh for four tweets a month, Dad Dheer wants more for his son. “Give him a good package,” he says like a doting father. Duly respecting a father’s wish, we raise the fee to Rs. 40 lakh a month. “I will do Twitter, Insta for you,” says Nikitin, gratified. After explaining him the same payment mode, we ask him if he has any problem accepting cash. “Koi diqqat nahi hai (There is no problem),” assures Nikitin. Before closing the meeting, we tell Nikitin in no way should a word go out. “Nahi bilkul bhi nahi aap bilkul chinta mat kijiye  (No, never. You don’t worry),” Nikitin assures us again. Our interview with father-son duo ended on this note.

When we met Pankaj, he did not have a Twitter account but within days he had begun tweeting. His son was equally eager to grab the deal smelling the heady scent of money. When he saw there was no communication from his prospective clients, Nikitin shot off the following message to us.

We had e-mailed a questionnaire to all these celebs to know what they would like to say on what we have revealed in our story. Click here to read the answers.

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