Actor Gurmeet Singh Sethi says even Sonia Gandhi mistook him for the prime minister of India
As he walks slowly wearing a white kurta-pyjama and a light blue turban, anyone could mistake him for the most powerful man in India – Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. But Delhi-based transporter Gurmeet Singh Sethi does not mind. So much so that he even accepted an offer from TV personality Suhaib Ilyasi of India’s Most Wanted fame to be a part of a film that highlights the misuse of the Dowry Act against men. The role he is playing is not hard to guess!
The film, 498A – A Wedding Gift, produced by Ilyasi, briefly features Sethi in his role as Indian prime minister.“Suhaib asked me if I would do the role of our honorable prime minister and so I thought over it and accepted it,” Sethi said in Chandigarh during a trip to promote the film.
Producer Ilyasi, who claimed that he had been a victim of Section 498-A (Dowry Act of the Indian Penal Code) and was even arrested for the same after his wife committed suicide, said: “When we approached him, he was very skeptical that the role should not offend the prime minister. So he thoroughly read that script and got the approval of a friend and ex-judge of the Supreme Court. After he was satisfied, he accepted the role.”
Sethi may not be part of the high-profile power circles in New Delhi but he was once a member of the Congress party. “Once I was sitting in a Congress party meeting and Sonia Gandhiji kept looking at me, talking for 15 minutes. Even the media there had their cameras focussed on me. It is funny how people mistake me for Manmohan Singhji,” he claimed.
Sethi says he enjoys being the lookalike of the prime minister. “When I go to the Connaught Place market in Delhi to get my shoes polished, youngsters confuse me for Manmohan Singh. Once the crowd got so excited to see me that they made me sit where I was,” he said. On being asked if he really knew the prime minister, he takes out his smartphone and shows pictures of Dr Manmohan Singh and him.
“In the film, a bunch of advocates come up to me and say that Section 498-A should be amended and I say I will look into the matter and see what can be done,” he said explaining his short role in the movie. In Chandigarh, Sethi was flanked by two ‘security men’ holding toy guns. The security guys were actually two youths having a shot at acting. The movie deals with the subject of the Dowry Act being misused against husbands and their relatives. Ilyasi says the narrative of the film is based on the alleged harassment of his friend, Syed Ahmed Makhdoom, who committed suicide in 2009 after being booked under Section 498-A. “He committed suicide after leaving a video message wherein he tells about all he went through. When he lost his patience, he decided to end his life,” Ilyasi claimed.
The movie has four songs by renowned singers Ghulam Ali Khan, Sonu Niigaam, Sunidhi Chauhan and Shaan.
Niladri Shekhar Das, a victim from Delhi and a member of the Save Indian Family Forum (SIFF), said: “According to an RTI (Right To Information) application, 94,000 men had been victimised in the country under this law till 2010. Out of these, 41,000 women were arrested.”
Ilyasi said: “We have been pleading with the government to add a Section B to the Act. This is to make the law gender-neutral.” He said once booked under the dowry law, it takes nearly 10 years for husbands and their families to get out of it.