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Subhash Ghai once offered a Marjaavaan-like tale to Amitabh Bachchan and me – Beyond Bollywood

The seasoned actor doesn’t say much about the Riteish Deshmukh film, but his smile amply suggests that he wasn’t impressed with Marjaavaan [2019].  He praises Kamal Haasan for playing a dwarf in Apoorva Sagodharagal (1989) that was dubbed in Hindi as Appu Raja [1990].

M M Faruqui

By Mayur Lookhar

Seasoned actor M M Faruqui is probably the first dwarf to act in Hindi films. Better known by his stage name, Lilliput, the acclaimed actor will soon be seen in a MX Player web series Kode Lage Gaye Ji [2023]. We caught up with Faruqui and sought his perspective on the portrayal of dwarves in Indian cinema.

Faruqui has often been stunned as to how the industry seldom adopted a horses for courses policy in such casting. The last popular and normal actor to play a dwarf was Riteish Deshmukh in Milap Zaveri’s dud Marjaavaan [2019]. 

We asked Faruqui whether he saw that film? 

“Yes, I did,” he said with a smile.  Deshmukh played the dwarf Vishnu Shetty, the brutal antagonist in the crime thriller.  Negative reviews dissuaded us from watching the film. However, the popular worry over the film was how it perhaps demonized the community of dwarves.

Does Faruqui, too, holds that opinion? There was no answer but the seasoned actor simply nodded.  He chose the moment to reveal a past anecdote.

“Many years ago, Subhash Ghai wanted me as a villain, with Amitabh Bachchan as the lead. Unfortunately, that film never got made.  Many years later, someone told me that a similar kind of film was made with Riteish Deshmukh (as the villain),” said Faruqui.

Maybe it was his bad luck, and pure destiny that such a character fell into Riteish Deshmukh’s lap.

Riteish Deshmukh in Marjaavaan [2019]

“But it didn’t yield the desired result. You are a tall person and you are turning into a dwarf. Your body language is different,” quipped Faruqui

The seasoned actor though praised Kamal Haasan, who had successfully played a dwarf in Apoorva Sagodharagal [1989]. The Tamil film was dubbed in Hindi as Appu Raja a year later.  If we recall, the technology wasn’t great in Indian cinema then.  So, to play a dwarf, Haasan tied his feet and stood, walked on his knees.

Praising his effort, Faruqui said, “Kamal Haasan had an intelligent script. He played both characters (one normal, other a dwarf). He endured a lot of stress to play the dwarf. He worked really hard.”

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