New Delhi — Loha Singh, whose life is the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary on the power crisis in Kanpur, says he initially did not want to work in “Katiyabaaz” as he thought he would end up in jail.
Recalling his first meeting with directors Deepti Kakkar and Fahad Mustafa, Singh said he thought they were mediapersons who had come to do a sting operation on him for his work as a “katiyabaaz” (electricity thief).
"When I saw them with cameras, I told myself that I would be jailed today because these people will film me and show the footage to the whole country. I was scared to meet them.
"Later, they told me they wanted to make a movie with me and about my work, so after some thought I came onboard. My people, too, dissuaded me from doing the film as they thought it would bring nothing else but trouble," he said.
Singh, however, is happy to have worked in the movie and has acquired a celebrity status among his friends, who were impressed to see his photographs on the posters.
"I went ahead with the film and did not listen to anyone and now after seeing my posters and hoardings everywhere, they tell me, ‘please recommend us too for the next movie you sign,’ and I laugh. My family and friends are very happy and proud of me," Singh said.
The film came as the biggest surprise in Singh’s life as he never thought he would become an actor, given the humble background he comes from.
"I could not believe that people wanted to work with me. I enjoy watching films, but it is impossible to even imagine that a small man from Kanpur, who steals electricity, will play the lead in a film, but it happened.
"Initially, everything used to look alien to me. In fact, I used to finish my work and run back home, but slowly we all became close and it started feeling nice," Singh said.
When asked how he prepared himself before facing the camera for the first time, Singh said he kept telling himself throughout the making of the film that he was handsome to avoid feeling nervous.
"I told myself that I looked handsome because otherwise I couldn’t have concentrated on my performance. I just followed the instructions of the directors and gave my best. I have never done anything like this before, but I decided I will do it properly," said Singh, who is yet to watch the film and hence finds all the praise “weird.”
"It is a nice feeling that people have liked our film, but I have not seen the film myself, so I don’t know how to react to the praise. I want to show the film to my parents, brothers and my friends. It is weird and surreal," Singh said.
The documentary, presented by Phantom Films and released through Globalistan, has created buzz for its humorous take on a serious situation, and Singh has been praised for his performance. But unmoved by the adulation, the young man says he would never leave his high-risk job for a life of glamour.
"I will never leave Kanpur and my work of ‘katiyabaazi’ for acting, but I would not mind working in a film if somebody comes to Kanpur," Singh said.
“Katiyabaaz,” a National Award-winning documentary, released in cinemas Aug. 22.