Loha Singh, the actor in the award winning documentary KATIYABAAZ shared how his journey as a 'Katiyabaaz' initiated and how has this documentary made him into a superstar back in his hometown. Phantom Films, who is presenting the film has joined hands with Globalistan Films to venture into the alternate content space through KATIYABAAZ. Produced and directed by Deepti Kakkar & Fahad Mustafa, the film is set to release on 22nd August, 2014.
Is Loha Singh your real name?
My real name is not Loha Singh. I am fondly called by that name. My original name is Mohammed Nasif which was kept by my family.
From where did you get the idea of stealing electricity?
There were a lot of problems. There were financial issues and the work that I was doing wasn't sufficient enough to fulfil the basic needs. My father was also tensed as he couldn't work. We always faced a lot of power cuts and the bijliwala use to work in our mohalla for many days. I use to observe him from one corner and thought even I could do this. I tried my hand at it & gradually got the hang of it.
What was your family's reaction when you told them about stealing electricity?
They were worried and told me that this is dangerous and asked me not to do it. I use to lie to them and just to convince them would say that I wouldn't do it. I hid it from my family and still continued stealing electricity.
Being a dangerous thing to do, weren't you scared of doing the unsafe task of stealing electricity?
I was very scared initially, do teen baar bijli mei chipke bhi (suffered few electric shocks), after that the fear totally vanished.
Have the people of Kanpur watched KATIYABAAZ?
They have not seen the film but they have seen about it on the internet. They tell me about it and call me a superstar. I want people to come and tell me about the film. I can't praise my own self.
You are the hero in KATIYABAAZ and have already got a lot of recognition, so if you are offered more movies would you accept it?
Yes, I wouldn't mind. If I get proper work, I'll definitely do it.
When the team of KATIYABAAZ approached you with their idea with you as the hero, did you believe them?
I couldn't figure out the truth. I was just doing my work and I thought they are just taking my photos. I thought they would publish a book or make an album out of it. I didn't know that it would turn out to be a film. It took almost one and a half year so then I thought maybe it would be for a film only.
How did you feel when you got to know that you were going to be the hero of KATIYABAAZ?
I will be shown in the talkies, people will watch the film and praise me and this made me feel good.
How you ever been caught by the police stealing electricity?
Yes, the police has caught me around three to four times.
Have they ever beaten you up?
No, they have just put me behind bars.
Do you think the situation in Kanpur will ever change?
No, I don't think it will ever change. Even the electricity theft will never come to an end. The big officials themselves get the electricity stolen and they get a lot of money for that.
Do you think KATIYABAAZ can help in improving the situation of Kanpur?
We'll have to wait and watch till then. But according to me, there will be no improvement.
(By Jahnavi Patel)