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Lights, camera, action!

Lights, camera, action!
Highlights

Lights, camera, action! The traditional cue to film crew at the beginning of a take has taken a whole new meaning with an increasing number of silver screen idols powering the 2014 elections. Dozens are in the fray, adding glamour to the political party they represent and glitz to the campaign.

The traditional cue to film crew at the beginning of a take has taken a whole new meaning with an increasing number of silver screen idols powering the 2014 elections. Dozens are in the fray, adding glamour to the political party they represent and glitz to the campaign.

Their sudden rush to plunge into politics, leaving the show business at least for the time being, is like dashing to a theatre to see a film on the first day first show. The thrill of watching it in the cinema hall when thousands were waiting outside for tickets is adrenaline-pumping experience. The feeling of heroes and heroines of box office hits could be similar to those who had made the first cut when they announced their decision to join politics amid fanfare.
The reel-to-real scene would not be much different: Instead of studio and controlled atmosphere, the tinsel world worthies would have uncontrolled crowds of fans screaming, jostling and whistling at every word that flows out of the mouth of their favourite hero or heroine. That was the overwhelming response to the actor’s real presence on the stage, with their actor-turned political leader promising to fulfill every demand of his/her fans like he/she does in a cinema role. The wish on everybody’s lips, of course, would be the make-believe film characters portrayed by the top of the Indian cinema crop would come alive to rescue the people from villains of society. Unfortunately, the script is different; as such the role changes.
No need for disappointment, since we get an opportunity to see them real time, without paint-masked faces and not reading script written by someone else.
Even then the prospect of having them amidst us as our future representatives in State Assemblies and Parliament is exhilarating for the simple reason that they make their illusionary screen appearances real when they appear on the stage or mingle with the people. Probably, that’s the reason why the screen idols are able to pull crowds. It’s a different matter whether the presence of mass audience will translate into votes and give opponents a run for their money.
At the national level, we have the Bollywood with a pan-India appeal. It produces hundreds of pot-boilers every year and its dream girls and macho boys are household names and their films send the tills ringing crores. But can they repeat the feat with votes in the election? A million-dollar question indeed! However, the parties which have fielded them must have considered the glamour quotient and taken a calculated risk. Take, for example, BJP’s move to make TV star-turned politician Smriti Irani stand against Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi in Amethi in a bid to test the will of hearts and minds in a prestigious constituency. Similarly, BJP is again cheeky by pitting popular and vivacious Kirron Kher against Congress party’s former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Banswal and AAP’s Gul Panag, a young actress, in Chandigarh. In fact, the BJP has managed to attract new faces like Paresh Rawal, Joy Banerjee, Babul Supriyo and music director Bappi Lahiri besides retaining loyalists like Shatrughan Sinha and Hema Malini. Congress seems to be faring badly on G-quotient since only Raj Babbar and Nagma are in the news, the latter for all wrong reasons. Nevertheless, the party is banking upon regional screen faces like Chiranjeevi in Andhra Pradesh and Ravi Kishan in Uttar Pradesh.
Though the Indian film industry appears to adopt apolitical approach to the powers that be, in recent years, politics and entertainment are increasingly becoming inseparable since both of them thrive on people, promises and dreams. If the Bollywood can boast of names like Big B, his wife Jaya Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Govinda, Sunil Dutt, Sanjay Dutt, Dharmendra, among many others who had dabbled in politics but never made to the top, the South Indian cinema has the distinction of making two top heroes and one heroine as chief ministers.
The script for turning a top screen hero into a political phenomenon was first written in Tamil Nadu where actor-director-producer MG Ramachandran had played a crucial role in State politics from 1953 to 1987, including as chief minister from 1977 to 1987. His legacy is still continuing, of course, with his screen heroine and political heir Jayalalithaa at the helm. In Andhra Pradesh, the ascendancy of superstar and founder of Telugu Desam Party NT Rama Rao is legendary.
In recent years, another actor who had aspired to rise to NTR level is Chiranjeevi. By founding Praja Rajyam Party he hoped to do an NTR in 2008. But it ended in merger with Congress in 2011. His brother ‘Power Star’ Pawan Kalyan’s new outfit Jana Sena which is supporting Modi is making ripples in political circles. Whether it will make waves later is to be seen.
Regional cinema getting into politics is catching up with many actors donning party caps and jumping into the fray in West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, etc. Does this trend portend well for the polity? If we think that MGR and NTR had done a good job for their respective states, well, actors can, at least at state level. However, the credit for running the country goes to Ronald Reagan, a former Hollywood actor.
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