Salim Zaidi, Theatre, Film and TV Actor

Salim Zaidi, Theatre, Film and TV Actor

Asit Dixit and Umesh Patil |
February 19, 2019

“Kum shabdon mein teer lag jaaye sateek (It should hit the target using fewer words).””

Two ducks in a series before the selectors cost him a promising career in cricket. Before making Mumbai his second home, Salim Zaidi did theatre in Delhi while working as a radio jockey. He shot to prominence with sitcom Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai in 2015, which is still running on TV, where he plays Tillu who does never succeed in recovering his six-month pay his employer owes him. Apart from working back to back in TV serials, the actor has acted in Bollywood flicks like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, O Teri, Trip to Bhangarh, Hai Apna Dil To Aawara and Vicky Donor, among others. Zaidi has about 2000 followers on Twitter, while more than 6,000 people follow him on Facebook and about 1000 on Instagram.

His importance lies in the fact that he is not only a celebrity but also a well-known Muslim face, we tell him, and naturally he enjoys credibility among his community. What all you have to do is speak about all the good work the BJP government has done. We will provide you the content and you have to post that content on your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts after paraphrasing it. In other words, you have to make it interesting in your own style.

Understanding the nuances of the assignment on hand, Zaidi says in agreement, “Ye nahi ki specially main aapko kar raha hoon samajh gaya (I got it. It should not look like I am promoting you [the BJP] specially).” You see you have to work in such a manner that people don’t take you as someone working directly for the BJP, we tell him again. You have to create an impression so that they would rather believe what you would be telling them about the BJP. “Apne shabdon mein uss cheez ko jo aapka concept hai usko bayaan karna ([I got it]I will have to say that concept in my own words),” Zaidi says.

Zaidi is not associated with any political party which will help gain credibility among the people. We advise him against going whole hog into the job at once. He should rather make four–five tweets a month keeping in mind that we are targeting the 2019 elections. He gets it well to say, “Dose ke type aise ([You mean like] Dose [of medicine] type).”

Giving him an idea how he should go about praising the BJP government, we tell him the example of Swach Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India Campaign. You can tweet, we suggest him, saying the success of campaign is the success of Modiji. Zaidi is a step ahead of us in this game. “Gandagi ke gurde chheel diye Modiji ne (Modiji has taken filth to task),” he says. Now take, for example, the Karnataka elections. You can tweet, we suggest him, saying that the BJP has increased its victory tally from 40 MLAs to 104 while the Congress under the leadership of Pappu could not fare well. He rather failed. And Pappu can be anybody. This way you can make fun of the leader in question as well as send your message across. 

Zaidi does not have any problem with caricaturing the leader of a national party in this manner. “Baat bhi pahuncha denge ([Yes, this way] Message will also get across),” he returns with as much promptness and adds, “Ab jo Pappu keh raha hai kya keh raha hai wo duniya jaanati hai bas yahaan par ye kehna chahenge ki khisyaani bhilli khamba noche, kabhi ye aa gaya kabhi kuch aa gayaa … kum shabdon mein teer lag jaaye sateek (Now, what Pappu is saying the whole world knows it well. Here I will say he is barking up the wrong tree. Sometime I will write like this at other times something else … I mean it should hit the target using fewer words).”

This is how you have to work on our agenda, we appreciate him. What you will post on social media should look like your own thoughts as an individual, we say. “Samajh gaya main I got it (I have understood it. I got it),” says Zaidi. As a Muslim, you are very important to the BJP, we tell him. “Main samajh gaya. Main samajh gaya (I got it, I got it),” says Zaidi.

Telling him that this activity may last for eight months, we ask him how long he would like to work for us. Surprisingly, Zaidi is eager to work for the entire period. After all, he would be making money out of this exercise. Listen to what he says, “Agar judna hai toh poora aath mahine tak judo dekho do paise agar mujhe mil rahe hain toh mera job hi advantage hai wo milna chahiye wo convey ho jaata hai ki banda jo hai wo juda hua hai. Ab ek mahina kiya aapne gayab ho gaye toh usase log jude fir gayab ho gaye. Ab election tak banda continue juda hua hai wo ek theme ko lekar aa raha hai mentally unko strong kar raha hai leke aa raha hi, leke aa raha hai aur election aa gaye aur aakhir mein keh diya bhai vote for BJP … khatam (I would like to join you for the entire eight-month period. When I am getting paid for it, you should get advantage from me. It gets conveyed that the fellow is associated. If I work for one month and disappear, then people who join me would also disappear. So if a fellow is associated with you till the time of elections continuously, he is working on a theme and making those [who has joined him] mentally strong, bringing them in more and more, and when the election would arrive, he would finally tell his followers to vote for BJP … That is all).”

This is exactly what we expect from you, we tell him encouragingly.  Zaidi furthers adds, “Lekin mera apna individual hai ki yaa toh judo sahi se judo warna mat judo (But what I believe as an individual is if you want to be associated you should associate properly).” This is exactly what we are looking forward to, we say. We will provide you four-five contents every month to play out. At this point, Zaidi explains how he would go about doing his job. Listen to what he is suggesting, “Usmein hum ek kaam aur karenge usmein jo bhi nai cheej uthkar jo media se related hai ya jo kuch bhi ho usko bhi bade pyar se samet lenge aur koshish ye rahegi ki kum shabdon mein … aajkal ka time para khatm ho gayaa. Muhavaron ka istemaal karte huye chipka denge baat kahi aur muhavara cut … poori baat muqammal kar deta hai wo (I will do one more thing. I will also include anything new related to media or other things, and I will try to convey it with minimum words … in present times a para ends as soon as it starts. We will paste that stuff making good use of idioms. I will say something and close it with idioms … cut … that will convey the message in an effective way).”

Finding him completely on board, we now discuss his fee. When we ask him what his expectation is, Zaidi tells us to quote what is our offer saying, “Matlab kya hota hai mi baat jab nikle munh se alfaaz toh ferbadal naa ho usmein (What matters is when you commit something you should fulfill that).” So, we offer him Rs. 15 lakh a month for 15 messages. Thinking for some moment, he asks, “Iska contract hoga (Will there be a contract).” Yes there will be one, we say. But we will not put all these details in black and white therein as it is a hidden agenda. You will be shown as promoting some products. Agreeing, Zaidi says, “Arre nahi wo likhna bhi nahi kyonki iss cheej ko hum hide leke chal rahe hain (Oh yes, you don’t have to write all such details as we have to hide this thing).”

His fee settled thus, we ask him in what mode he would like to be paid. “Toh ismein black mein denge ya cheque mein denge (So, will you pay it in black or by cheque),” he asks in turn. We tell him we are comfortable in cash as it is political money. Says Zaidi, “Cash hee sahi hai (Cash is fine).” When we say we won’t be able to show these transactions in our books, Zaidi reiterates, “Cash hee sahi hai (Cash is fine).” This is how our interview comes to end.

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