Sunday, March 20, 2005


Prabhu Jhootwala proudly presents his first interview with a long forgotten legend.

Ram Ram, Ravanji. It’s a great pleasure meeting you. Can you tell us a few words about yourself for the benefit of our dumb readers?
Ravan: Long before Dawood Ibrahim, when the world was lusting for an underworld don, I decided to fill the void. I chose Lanka as my joint. And did everything that a good don must do. I amassed wealth. Built a swanky palace. Bumped off those who deserved to die. Ensured my boys never felt the pinch of wine or women. And also acted as a godfather for my silly siblings who never for one moment felt ashamed to pylon to me.

How did your parents react to your move? Did they clap with glee when they heard that you’re going to be the dada of demons?
Ravan: Not exactly. To put it mildly, my parents died a hundred deaths when they heard of my decision. All their life, they wanted me to be a god fearing achcha bachcha. And here I was bent on crushing their dreams. Initially I felt bad. But then I told myself kuch paaney key liye kuch khona padta hai. Anyways, to address their concerns, I acquired a goodie-goodie bharatiya naari called Mandodari as my wife.

I would like to digress here and ask you a doubt that has plagued me all my life. When you sneeze, how would you know which of your 10 heads, let out that sneeze?
Ravan: Well, that’s a tricky one. Years ago, a pesky reporter named Valmiki, asked me the same question. Well, all I can say is that, I go by the seventh law of common sense. Which is - he who has a wet moustache is always guilty of a sneeze!

Talking of common sense, why the hell did you make the mistake of kidnapping Sita, wife of Lord Ram?
Ravan (angry): This is a huge slander campaign that’s been going on for ages. That bloke Valmiki started it all. If I were alive, I would slap a defamation suit on anyone who makes such a dubious charge. The truth is, I was on a wild safari in some god-forsaken jungle in India. I found this beautiful woman helplessly all alone in a little hut surrounded by all kinds of beasts. The chivalrous me, decided to help her out. So I offered her a lift. I took her to the nearest civilization, on my flying limousine. The nearest civilization happened to be Lanka. But then her brother-in-law created such a ruckus that the world thought I was kidnapping her. This is what happens when you go out of the way to help a woman.

You expect us to believe that yarn? If all you did were to provide a safe haven to Sita, Lord Ram would have hugged you as his long lost buddy. But instead he waged a war against you. What do you say for that?
Ravan: Not all wars are fought for a just cause. Look at what George Bush did. He attacked Iraq citing Weapons of Mass Destruction. And when he won the war, he could not even find a single shred of evidence to back his hypothesis. That’s what happened in my case. Ram assumed I kidnapped his wife. He presumed I harassed her. And he launched a bloody war based on that premise. He wiped out a whole country and went back with the halo of a god. If this incident had happened today, I would have had the wholehearted support of human rights organizations across the world. Ram would have been condemned as a war criminal by Amnesty International. People would have taken to the streets in London. Arundhati Roy would have written a book about me. Shekhar Kapoor would have made a movie on me.

Lord Ram gave you a chance. He sent a messenger in the form of Hanuman. You could have explained your story and made peace with him. Why didn’t you do that?
Ravan: Look I don’t wish to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. But I would like to ask you one thing. What kind of a man sends a monkey as a negotiator? How would Gorbachev have reacted if Reagan had sent a monkey for the peace talks? How do you expect me, the great Ravan, to speak to a monkey about my side of the story? So I didn’t even bother.

The way you’re talking, I get this feeling you’re a saint. But the world thinks you’re a sinner. How are you going to correct this impression?
Ravan: I am no saint. I don’t want that title. I don’t even mind being called a sinner. But what irks me the most is this campaign of calumny to project me as a pervert. As a first step to fight this image problem, I would like to issue a statement, Mr. Jhootwala. ‘Read my lips, I stole nobody’s wife. I just did her a favour.’

Another charge against you, Ravanji, is your so-called mighty army lost to an army of monkeys. How do you react to that?
Ravan: Anything that I say against monkeys may backfire on me. Maneka Gandhi and her band of animal activists will be up in arms. I don’t wish to do or say anything that will hurt my image further.

Any unfulfilled dreams?
Ravan: I always wanted to be the brand ambassador for Head & Shoulders shampoo.

What is your message to the youth of the country?
Ravan: I have only one message – Never have 10 heads if you have a dandruff problem.


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