Dream girl high on election fever
Dream Girl High on Election Fever. A few years ago when Hema Malini was appointed as Rajya Sabha member by the President, Dev Anand had said that Malini has the potential to become a minister some day.
A few years ago when Hema Malini was appointed as Rajya Sabha member by the President, Dev Anand had said that Malini has the potential to become a minister some day.
Nobody took his prediction seriously but now that Hema Malini is contesting for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Mathura, it seems her mentor’s prophecy is about to come true.
It is the last few hours of election fever and I’m privileged to travel with Hema Malini on the dusty streets of Mathura to present a blow by blow account.
5pm : Land at Agra airport to realise that private cars are not being allowed near exit because Rahul Gandhi is arriving and the airport is cordoned for 2.5 km for security.
5.30pm: Takes about an hour and half to drive from Agra to Mathura in evening traffic. We take longer because we stop for parathaa and chai on the way.
6pm: Election fever is on in full swing. There are big banners everywhere. I know it is an oft repeated word but it appears like BJP wave and dream girl Hema Malini is clearly in demand
8.30pm: Mathura, Radha Krishna Hotel. Hema Malini has just returned after a long day of election rally, she notices me in the lobby and waves. Her new role is tough she agrees but also interesting!
9pm: Meetings, more meetings, discussions, more discussions with party workers on schedules for tomorrow.
9.30pm: Finally, Hema Malini is left alone. A few minutes in her room for a quick shower, puja and she emerges in the adjoining dining room to grab a quick bite and then retire to bed. Tomorrow is another day....
9am: Radha Krishna Hotel lobby is packed with people, men, women, children from nearby villages, a cluster of party worker, all dressed in white fill the long passage and narrow corridor. Preparations for the rally begin…Flags, pamphlets, water bottles, preparations for a new day begins...
9.30am: Hema Malini looking radiant in a peacock blue saree emerges from her room. There is no time for breakfast, just fruits. The team is ready to start the day but before that Hema has to do some channel interviews. It is a new day, a new mood and new goal to accomplish.
10am: In car with Hema Malini and BJP flag fluttering on the bonnet, first stop is at Vidhyarthi Parishad meeting. ABVP leaders welcomes the actor and one of them gives a passionate speech. Hema Malini compliments them for their strength and support and says that if she wins the credit will go to the students. The students cheer her and it is time to move to the next stop.
11am: Mathura Highway. From the car window I see montages of brick houses, green grass, grazing cattle and for a change, some cool breeze. I'm told Mathura has approximately 1200 villages and Hema Malini is making sure to visit as many villages as she can.
11.15am: On way to Sahoda, little shops on road read signs of 'Angrezi sharab' and co-incidentally the radio plays 'naam gum jayega...' from Hema Malini's film Kinara. She is too preoccupied with the frenzy on the street to notice this but I do and realise life is full of contradictions
12.30: We are driving on kaccha roads and the view has altered to brown fields and women in long veils, carrying half naked children. They see our caravan of cars and stop to smile at us, some men on the road watch Hema Malini waving from the car and show her a poster of BJP, children run behind the car and shout 'Hema Malini Zindabad...'
10pm: Entering Baldev Shetra Taluka. Montages of hand pumps, more running children and young and old women blushing through their transparent veils, Hema Malini says, 'ghunghat uthao, chehra dikhao' they show her their left finger to her and say 'Hamara vote aap ke liye'
2pm: Sabha in Karav. Hema Malini comes on stage and asks questions a la Narendra Modi to the crowds. ‘What has the present sarkar done for you? Do you have water? Do you have electricity? Do you have decent roads?’ The answer is negative. She says this is the land of Krishna and if her party is elected they will transform this land into heaven!
2.30pm: The roads turn rougher and the weather plays truant. It is humid and hot one minute and suddenly it turns cloudy and begins to rain. Everybody is relieved and decide to take a lunch break as it is difficult to address road shows in rain! Hema Malini is vegetarian and carries her home made tiffin with her comprising just one chappati, some vegetables and curds.
3.55pm: We are driving to Raya. Hema informs that she has visited this village earlier, this is her second time. The clouds have disappeared and it is sunny again. It’s an unusually hot day but crowds don’t care, they are enthusiastic and when they spot the approaching car, come running to greet us asking for BJP badges.
5pm: We are driving to Bijari Byohi and everywhere, we stop for a road show. Sometimes we meet angry villagers who complain about waiting to see Hema Malini for too long. Some are angry because they are unhappy with their last leader. ‘Humko sadak dilwao’. Hema says ‘Vote do sab kuch milega, Narendra Modi sab theek kar denge’. More women in veils descend on the actor. Hema copies them and pulls her sari to hide behind a veil. They are disapproving, say 'Chehra dikhao' She lifts her veil and they say 'Chinta mat kariyo'
6.30pm: We are in Anoda, a small town evident by the fact that bikes have replaced tractors and large stores are in place of little shops. A long line of men await carrying rose garlands and little children welcome the dream girl by throwing rose petals on the car.
7pm: Another Sabha at Saukh Kheda situated close to the town bazaar. More speeches on the dais and when it is time for Hema Malini to address, little children perch on top of trees. Hema Malini starts by reciting Krishna shlokas, some pundits sitting in the front row look surprised and some others are confused but when she finishes, all of them out of habit perhaps, clap...
8.00pm We are passing Patloni and the skyline has altered. The sun is going down but Hema's enthusiasm has not diminished. She distributes pamphlets of the party and displays a Lotus in her palm from a moving car so that the voters don't confuse her symbol with her rival’s. They are enjoying being indulged and shout 'jeetega bhai jeetega Kamal ka phool jeetega' like they are in a classroom and were tutored. Back on her seat, Hema explains, 'We have to be specific, this is not a time for any doubts and they have to distinguish a Lotus from the Hand Pump or any other symbol'
8.30pm: Dark streets, tall trees, rough roads, our car trudges like a bullock cart on a rocky path and the back hurts but the road shows continue. Some people are upset that Hema Malini is not talking for long, some because she is not getting out of the car and some because they cannot get a close view of Basanti from ‘Sholay’, yet all of them wait for the caravan of cars and as we pass they cheerfully scream, 'Radhe Radhe...'
9.30pm: Back to the hotel, to more meetings with people and party workers collected in the corridor. After five Sabhas and ten Road shows, Hema Malini is too drained to eat her dinner, has just a bowl of curds and retires in her room. She knows she has miles to go before she can sleep...….!
- Bhawana Somaaya/Tweets @bhawanasomaaya