It’s the season of political biopics and former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav is the latest leader to get a film on his life. Titled ‘Lalten’ on the symbol of his political party Rashtriya Janata Dal, the party that Lalu founded in 1997.
The film will see Bhojpuri actor Yash Kumar play Yadav in the film. The movie, which will feature different aspects of the notorious political leader’s life in an interesting manner, is expected to hit the screens in February.
But as has been the case with many biopics of late, which rudimentary have been hagiographies, often painting the protagonist of the movie in light of the angel and whitewashing the grey parts of their lives, as was the case with movies like Azhar and Sanju where the main lead often takes bad decisions with good intentions. There is supposed to be no rationale for describing someone’s inept decisions and the silver screen needs to own those decisions too. But even if a movie is to be made on the political career of the leader known for his eccentric style of politics, it should blatantly show what a man Lalu was and how he like a termite hollowed Bihar through his numerous scams and the anarchy that prevailed all right under his nose, often at his behest.
His resume is glittering with such blunders that even a three-hour runtime would be less than enough to showcase his stupendous corruption and criminal achievements.
- Born at Phulwaria in Bihar to Kundan Rai and Marachhiya Devi. A bachelor of Law and Political Science graduate, Lalu single-handedly brought the fortunes of Bihar down with his efficient governance. His dreaded and horrible fifteen-year rule in Bihar is often termed as Jungle Raj, which simply implies lawlessness. Bihar lived in the tyranny of Lalu from 1990 to 2005, as he and his wife continued to rule and dry the wealth of the common people.
- From alleged state-backed killings to kidnapping rackets all were very common for Bihar. Lalu’s vision from the starting was very clear which was to satisfy his vote base by using all the dirty tricks available in the book whether it be through appeasement politics or instilling fear in the people. Lalu stayed in the political picture of Bihar with RJD using the support of Yadavs and Muslims. He never bothered to look after the welfare of common people but was only filling his coffers. Currently, the RJD supremo is in prison for all his many revolutionary deeds. According to a survey conducted by TOI sometime back, from 1992 to 2004, the total number of reported kidnapping cases were 32,085. Imagine the number of cases that went unreported. According to the Bihar Police website, the number of murders during 2001-2005 is close to 20,000. One can only speculate the situation in the 90s.
- Out of the many scams that he committed or have been accused of, the Bihar Fodder scam duped the exchequer of whooping ₹9.4 billion. He had siphoned off the money from the Animal Husbandry department and as he always proclaimed made the lives of few people better, albeit those were only his relatives and people close to the family that became extravagantly rich, courtesy Lalu’s benevolence. On 30 September 2013, he along with 44 others, including politicians and IAS officers, was convicted by the CBI court. A sentence of 5 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 25 lakh was given to him for his involvement in the scam.
- During Lalu’s and RJD’s regime, people were afraid to be seen splurging on big-ticket expenses such as cars. This was due to utter lawlessness that was allowed on the streets. In 2002 media reports said that RJD miscreants allegedly raided car showrooms to ferry guests for the marriage of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi’s second daughter, Rohini. As many as 50 brand new cars were lifted from showrooms at gunpoint to be used for ferrying guests. Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi and her brothers allegedly took away 100 new sofa sets from various furniture outlets to decorate six pandals in the marriage. In nutshell, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s army of raiders ensured that his daughter’s wedding was not forgotten easily and it is something that needs to be portrayed on the big screen.
- 29 July 1997, a day before Lalu was going to surrender before the CBI court, he pulled out a rabbit from his hat when he appointed Rabri Devi, his wife, a housewife who had no knowledge or interest in politics at that time. Even when in jail, he continued to act and administer as a de facto Chief Minister with Rabri being a ceremonial head. His move of appointing till day is considered one of the most obnoxious political decisions ever taken and it showed how much power-hungry he was. Lalu went to any length to protect his power and empire and this certainly was a case study of how he absolutely defied the state machinery. As Lalu is behind the bars, the scion Tejashwi Prasad Yadav was given the reins to steer the party. But Tejashwi has not been able to fill his father’s shoes (well, nobody can, Rs 9.4 billion fodder scam alone! that’s like breaking Usain Bolt’s 9.58-second record), leading to RJD’s dismal show in the parliamentary polls. His elder son Tej Pratap Yadav and daughter Misa Bharti have made all efforts to scuttle Tejashwi’s bid to maintain the party’s electoral fortune.
The bottom line is, Lalu was a man of different facets and if a biopic is to be made on him, it should highlight every single misdeed that he did and try not to whitewash the facts. Cinema is often regarded as a nation’s ‘soft power’, and it helps in setting the nation’s discourse. As such, whitewashing the crimes of a known criminal and showing him in a positive light, leads to glorification and romanticization of crime. Lalu had a good political acumen, but what he did with Bihar and its people is unpardonable and the story needs to be told without any filter, uncensored!