Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Follow us on

Bollywood to Bihar, meet the latest VIP in politics

April 16, 2019 07:12 AM


Bollywood to Bihar, meet the latest VIP in politics

In the season of political biopics, there is a rags-toriches story of a Lok Sabha candidate from Bihar that reads like nothing short of a movie script. Mukesh Sahani, a 38-year-old set designer from Malad, founded his own party merely five months ago and has now bagged three poll tickets as an ally of Lalu Prasad’s RJD, which is leading the mahagathbandhan of parties in that state.

Sahani’s Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) is seeking reservation for the 21 lakh members of his Nishad community in Bihar, which comprises boatmen and fisherfolk. His litmus test comes up April 23, when he faces the vote in Khagaria.

Sahani calls himself ‘Son of Mallah’ in Bihar and on the social media. But the entrance to his well-appointed flat in Swapnalok Towers near FilmCity Road in Mumbai bears his alternate surname, Soni. He lives here with wife Kabita and two children. Five minutes away in Malad East is Mukesh Film Works, his firm that executes glass and acrylic sets for cinema.

Mukesh Sahani was born in Bihar’s Darbhanga in 1981. He narrated his life story to TOI over the phone from Patna. “At 18, I ran away to Mumbai to escape my parents’ insistence on studies. I found work in a novelty store. Next door was a photoframe shop whose caretaker was always roaming about. I saw that many senior citizens would come looking for framed pictures of the gods but return disappointed. So, I began to help them out. It was thus that I learnt how to cut, carve and mould glass. Eventually, I set up my own glass business.”

Then, destiny led him to FilmCity. “I had always loved going to FilmCity to see film stars but I was never allowed in. However, I landed big assignments to carve glass, beginning with Paro’s haveli in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Devdas’. I have done sets from Bajrangi Bhaijaan to now Kalank. From Nitin Desai and Sabu Cyril, the topmost set designers hired me. From Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies to Salman Khan, I have worked with them all.”

For two years now though, Sahani has shifted base to Bihar. “I had supported the BJP in 2014 and helped them win because they had promised a quota for us Nishads, who make up 14% of Bihar’s population. But they let me down.”

Sahani has pumped money into the election fight, designing a campaign bus with plush interiors. His neighbour in Malad, businessman Sudesh Vaidya, says Sahani has mortgaged property to raise money. Sahani denies this, though. Asked if his family has questioned his investment in politics, he said, “I have earned this wealth. Nobody can tell me how to spend it. They did object earlier but not anymore.”


Have something to say? Post your comment