Shooting to instant fame after losing Lok Sabha elections miserably, this erstwhile labourer has managed to win many film and music offers within a fortnight.
After his video went viral in which a heartbroken Neetu Shutteranwala was seen weeping profusely following his defeat in India’s recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, this independent candidate from Jalandhar became the laughing stock of social media.
People shared his video frenetically, little realising that in his “laughable” defeat, lay the seeds of his dramatic fame.
The interview which was featured on Punjabi news channel Jagbani TV on May 23, went viral on a global scale on social media.
In the video, Mr Shutteranwala weeps inconsolably as he tells the interviewer that only five people voted for him at his home polling station, even though his family comprised nine voting members. But today, the same video which made him the butt of jokes, has made him a social media star.
Neetu Shutteranwala told SBS Punajbi, "I can’t stop counting the number of offers he has received from the Punjabi film and music industry."
Wherever he goes, people, including Punjab Police cops can be seen clicking selfies with him. Life has completely turned around for him in a span of two weeks.
Popular Punjabi singer Master Saleem called him home and praised him.
“Master Saleem called me and generously appreciated my honesty during and after elections. I’m a poor man. He saw my shabby clothes and took me shopping. He bought me stylish clothes from a showroom in Jalandhar and a pair of Ray Ban glasses too. He then offered to make a music video with me. I can’t believe my stars. I wish all poor people of India live to experience this,” an elated Mr Shutteranwala told SBS Punjabi over the phone from Jalandhar.
Punjabi pop songs have started hitting the charts singing paeans of Mr Shutteranwala’s shot to fame after defeat in the election.
“A song for my fans in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is also on the cards. The lyrics are: Neetu Shutteranwala aa gaya Bihar mein dekho, Bhayia.”
He has already shot for a Punjabi song in Chandigarh whose lyrics are: “Neetu ho gaya busy.” “I’ve done very good actions and lip sync in the song against dancing youngsters in the background,” says a triumphant sounding Mr Shutteranwala.
“I’ve received encouraging messages from popular Punjabi singers like Babbu Maan and Parmish Verma. I met famous wrestler The Great Khali also, who is soon planning a movie with me. I’ve got many phone calls from people who want to make movies with me as they think I told my emotional story in a convincing and honest manner after the elections,” he says, adding that he doesn’t want to move to Mumbai for working in the movies.
“That’ll be like cheating the poor people who I wanted to serve, had I won the elections. I want to focus on preparing for the Phagwara by-poll, vacated by Mr Som Prakash who is now a Member of Parliament for Hoshiarpur,” says he as he talks about his future plans.
However, famous Punjabi singer and actor Gippy Grewal rubbed Mr Shutteranwala the wrong way as he used his plight in the elections as a metaphor for the fast-selling tickets of his latest movie Chandigarh Amritsar Chandigarh.
“I’m not happy he made fun of me to promote his film. Plus he called me Neetu Matranwala. One artist should respect another,” rues he.
His road to glory is dotted with several milestones that appeared out of thin air in a fortnight after May 23.
From being mocked at, to feeling the need to hire a media manager and a local journalist with Punjabi media house, Dainik Savera TV, as a public relations guide, life has moved thick and fast for this erstwhile fabricator of iron shutters in Jalandhar, who borrowed money from a moneylender to contest the polls.
“I was told there are around 25 Facebook accounts with my name and picture. I’m now taking advice from my media team about creating my own social media accounts. I’m thankful to all those who made fun of me on TikTok. They inadvertently made me famous,” Mr Shutteranwala laughs.
He took the electoral plunge because he was reportedly “ill-treated” by the MP from his constituency, Chaudhary Santokh Singh.
“I used to admire him a lot. One day I went to click a selfie with him but he forcefully nudged me away. My phone fell on the ground and its screen got shattered. With that, my heart too got shattered. That’s when I told myself that I, a poor labourer, will contest against sitting MP Chaudhary Santokh Singh. Had Mr Singh not misbehaved with me, I wouldn’t have been where I am today,” laughs Mr Shutteranwala.
He will also be invited as a chief guest to a Dargah in Punjab for their annual function. “An American association of Punjabis has announced they will present me with a motorcycle,” says he as he adds that he has applied for a passport and will soon be invited to many countries by Punjabi event organisers.
In his original TV interview, Mr Shutternwala didn’t mince words while suspecting foul play in the electronic voting machines used for voting in India. He broke into tears as he told the tale of his performance – which he didn’t forsee.
Out of the 1,018,998 voters in his constituency, only 856 people voted for him.
Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to this interview in Punjabi.