Raju Srivastava, Film Actor and Stand-up Comedian

Raju Srivastava, Film Actor and Stand-up Comedian

Asit Dixit and Umesh Patil |
February 19, 2019

“Aur doosra kya waise kya rehta hai in logon ka kya offer hai (… and the second thing … anyway what is their offer).”

Playing small cameos in a couple of Bollywood flicks since 1988, such as Tezaab, Maine Pyar KiyaBaazigar and Bombay to Goa, Raju Srivastava shot to fame when he won the title of “Comedy King” many years later as stand-up comedy became the staple of the middle class homes hooked to the idiot box. It did not take long for Raju to attain a celebrity status. This brought him a ticket to parliamentary elections from the Samajwadi Party in 2014. But the comedian with as much facility changed his loyalty to join the BJP. The comedian has about 3.90 lakh followers on Facebook which speaks volumes about his popularity. About 10,000 people follow the comedian on Twitter, though. His YouTube channel has more than 2 lakh subscribers. We met the comedian at his Oshiwara office.

Raju wears his loyalty to the BJP on his sleeve. So, no sooner has he been briefed he wonders, “Nahi mera matlab tha ye ki agar BJP ka kaam hai toh mujhe BJP karyalay se phone aana chahiye (No, I mean if this job is related to BJP, then the BJP office would have had called to inform me about it).” As we try to convince him the BJP has given us this job to burnish its image on social media by engaging celebrities in an indirect way, Raju tells how none other than Arun Jaitley filled his membership form and the day he joined the BJP in the presence of Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh who celebrated the moment with a hand raising ceremony. But it did not take much effort for Raju to get interested in the deal. As part of this job, you would have to attack leaders like Rahul Gandhi not in a blatant manner but in a balanced way. You can say, for example, as a young leader, president of a party Rahul should not indulge in caste-based politics. Agreeing, Raju says, “Nahi wo toh main samajh gayaa direct toh hoga nahi thoda bolkar nikal gaye (I got it. You don’t have to hit directly. Just say some words on the issue).”

Since he is already a BJP member and supporter, we thought why not check if he is willing to promote other political parties on social media for money. Other political parties like AAP have also given us the same job, we tell him. Now, the AAP government has done marvelous work in education field in Delhi. Can you say some good words about AAP government without sounding anti-BJP? The stand-up comedian first tells us how he would like to do it for the BJP. “Maan lo BJP ka main aapke saath karta hoon toh ek toh jo aap idea har baar denge har baar main wahi karoon ye … ismein chhoot chahiye mujhe jahan tak matlab mere usmein rahe ki mera ye fans naaraz bhi na hon … ek toh wo rahega ki jo tweet ya jo material aap denge koi main karoonga jo nahi jamega toh usko main theek kar doonga (Suppose, I start working for the BJP at your behest, you will provide me ideas every time [on issues to be covered] … I want some liberty as I don’t want to antagonize my fans. Whatever tweet you will ask, or provide me the material for me to tweet, I will do, but if I don’t like it I would correct that),” says Raju. He then goes on to ask about what the AAP would offer him in terms of fee. “Aur doosra kya waise kya rehta hai in logon ka kya offer hai (… and the second thing … anyway what is their offer).” What the comedian is looking for is obvious.

As the parleys move on, Raju says, “Main surety nahi de raha hoon matlab, for example, maine aapke project ko haan kiya aap humein kya kaam denge wahan se itta bhi pressure na ho jaaye mujhe (I am not giving you surety. For example, if I agree to do your project, you may give me so much work that it puts me under pressure).” No, there will be no pressure on you, we assure him. “Ismein se haan koi idea aayega aap humein bhejenge ki ispe kuch bol dijiye theek hai (Here, if you have an idea, you will send it to me and ask me to say something on it, that is all)?” he asks. Yes, we will provide you the content, we tell him. You will have to post the same content in your own language from your account on social media. “Usko character mein kar diya (I will do that playing a character),” says Raju while understanding what we want from him. Then Raju gives us a live demo how he would do the job.

He is even ready to promote Uber to help the company burnish its image as a safe cab service for women. He will do it on his own way. We have another demo from the comedian, as he says, “Hum toh kya bolta bhai apun toh raat ko nikalta hai khana khane ko raat mein kya rehta hai na bhai restaurant wagaireh mein ladki kam rehti hai mast rehta hai bhai main kaay koo ye wo aisa karke … (What I tell you I go out for dinner at night because there are fewer girls in restaurants then, something like that).” But you have to do it only when such incidents happen, we advise him. Saying that the number of tweets will depend on what is happening with such companies at a given point of time, Raju roots for a monthly contract for his services. “Wo tweet matlab chhe din mein aa sakte hain aath din mein aa sakte hain toh humein toh fir monthly contract hona chahiye (Those tweets may come in six days or eight days so better get me a monthly contract),” he says. He himself fixes his fee for such image promotion, quoting a price of Rs. 10 lakh per company. Listen to what the comedian expects out of this deal, “Amount per tweet nahi rakhte. Ye andaza ho gaya ki issi ke aas-paas rahega tweet kee gintee bhi nahi rakhte seedha … toh mujhe lagta hai duss lakh rupaye tak ek company (Don’t fix the amount [fee] per tweet. Now, we have an idea that it will be around this figure. There is no need to fix the count of tweets, either … then I think Rs. 10 lakh per company [should be my fee]).”

Coming to payment of his fee, when we ask Raju in what mode he would prefer to be paid, Raju informs us, “Main taiyar hoon donon tareh se taiyar hoon (I am ready to accept in both modes).” As you may know it, our client pays us mostly in cash, we say. “Jaise political toh jo hai cash hee rahega ye wala jo hai chhota mota … thoda bahut chahiye toh (If it is political it will be largely cash but in the case [of such companies] there will be some … some small amount will be …),” says the comedian. It is obvious that the comedian, like many BJP supporters, has no problem if he is paid in cash.

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