OPINION | Decoding Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, The Baba With a Range Rover
CNN-News18 Executive Editor Bhupendra Chaubey recalls an interview with Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
I love cinema. Each night, post heated political debates on Viewpoint, I enjoy a bit of Spielberg or Tarantino. It just helps me take my mind off completely. I enjoy Woody Allen too. But in my life, I had never imagined that I will live to see a godman-turned-movie star.
It so happens that in this case, the godman-turned-movie star is the producer, distributor, financier, all rolled into one — Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
When he came into our studios just before the release of his film MSG Part 2, there was an eclectic buzz in the newsroom. All my young colleagues were winking at me. Hell, I wasn't meeting Shah Rukh khan. And may I say, no I wasn't meeting Sunny Leone. I was meeting the one and only Dera Sacha Sauda Chief himself. And there he came, with his daughter who was the director of his film.
The conversation was amusing to put it mildly. But as is TV culture these days, the more amusing you are, the more your producers want you to stay with the story. So I asked the Baba what prompted him to do the film? Was it just an attempt to get his PR right which had nosedived post rape charges against him? He showed me his biceps. He showed me his ṭaṭtoo. And very proudly, he said he was inspired by Shah Rukh’s six-packs at one point of time. If you had seen him in his full-shot on TV and not the mid-shot that we always show, you would have found that, err, amusing, too.
Punjab elections were around the corner. So I asked him if he was thinking of supporting a particular political party. He had done business both with the BJP-Akali combine as well as the Congress. "Hum to jee completely non-political log hain. Hum to sirf insaan ke liye kaam karte hain” was his response.
I was working out the numbers in my mind. Baba claimed that he has over 5 crore supporters across the globe. If each of them paid Rs 100 to watch his film, can you imagine the kind of money he would be making? That explains his ability to convert his imagery into a franchise.
He came, he sang and he left. But as his cavalcade of fancy cars left, I couldn't help but wonder, what is it about babas that keeps Punjabis and Haryanavis so glued? It's the same sentiment I have today as I look at images of lakhs of his supporters sprawling all over Chandigarh.
THE FULL INTERVIEW ON FEB 2, 2017
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