It’s difficult to reconcile Danish Sait, a suave, urbane young man, with the earthy appeal of his wildly popular creation, ‘Nograj’. But as we speak, Sait effortlessly slips into the voice of Nograj, and you immediately understand why the two have become synonymous. It also becomes obvious as to how Nograj metamorphosed from just a voice making prank calls on radio to a cult figure who is today starring in his own movie, currently in production: Humble Politician Nograj. “Can you able to understand this one?” is one of Nograj’s signature lines, and its not difficult to fathom why he has managed to capture the public’s imagination.
Nograj was born about six years ago, when Bangalore’s Fever 104 FM channel started airing a series of prank calls under various names and accents: Nograj, Chacko, Manjunath, Asghar, Salim and Chacko, among others. It was Nograj who went viral – and the voice behind him wasn’t surprised when that happened.
Sait shows me an entire softboard of messages that he has neatly framed on his wall, messages from all parts of the world, praising Nograj, asking him to prank people and even requesting him to stay away from the sender’s girlfriend. Sait made a few videos with Nograj around 2014, thus giving him a physical shape. Soon after that, Sait’s association with the Royal Challengers Bangalore happened, and Nograj became Mr. Nags, sharing all the scoops and crashing into RCB parties and shoots, via videos on the RCB website. “I saw that there was something for everyone,” he says. “Also, when I started doing Facebook Live with Nograj, I realised it was working because people today are so aware of politics. Social media and politics are so hand-in-hand, they beautifully interject. Everyone gets sarcasm and satire, and I wanted to see the journey through.”
Thus was born Humble Politician Nograj. The film has been co-written by Sait and Saad, and is about the journey of a corporator becoming an MLA. “It’s all that he wanted to do, since childhood,” explains Sait of Nograj’s dreams. “To his fortune or misfortune, he comes across this righteous guy called ArunPatil, a corporate governance guy, who believes in being honest and clean. Nagraj has never come across honesty. Nograj has battled another Nograj, but how does Nograj fight honesty? So it’s the journey of this guy, who is facing honesty and also, the race to the finish line between him and Patil, with who goes on to become the MLA.”
Sait believes that radio is all about building a visual in the listener’s mind. “Every voice that I have ever done is a result of me looking around and finding these stereotypes in society,” he says. Sait and his elder sister Kubra were brought up by their mother, and as a child, he would make his way to a corner of their supermarket after school and sit with his books. There he would encounter various different types of people. “So my attention to detail, listening and observing skills, my ability to pick and imitate voices comes from there,” he says. Asghar was a voice that Sait picked up because of a cab driver. Chacko was a spin-off from his best friend’s father in college. Salim was a character he met at a chai shop in Fraser Town. “So Nograj is very much from this world.”
These voices also helped Sait rise from the depression he found himself in, during his radio stint in Dubai. “My impatience drove me to depression,” says Sait candidly. “I couldn’t handle that I wasn’t getting want I wanted.” Sait returned to Bangalore after that, which was where the voices took shape. “I have grown from there. You have to be patient; you can’t be in a hurry. This is what the journey of Nograj has taught me.”