History and achievement of Bollywood Stars turn politicians
Little did CN Annadurai, founder of Dravida Mundrika Kagazam (DMK) imagine that his career-changing move from that of a movie script writer to a successful politician would be emulated by many from the film industry in the years to follow.
A trend that undoubtedly started from the South Indian movie industry in Tamil Nadu in the 1950s was also visible among cine stars in Bollywood that witnessed actors, actress' and even some directors donning the politicians trademark garb and reaching out to the `aam aadmi' during election season.
Movie stars have also played the role of `star campaigners' for political parties across the country and are known to have gone from village to village garnering support for their candidate.
This general election has its share of star studded personalities who are also debutante candidates namely Telugu mega star Chiranjeevi, who has floated his own political outfit and Bollywood's Sanjay Dutt, who has detached from his family's decades old relationship with the Congress party and teamed up with Samajwadi Party to contest from Lucknow Parliamentary seat.
Dutt, who has a troubled past involving drugs and weapons linking him to the Mumbai underworld, has said he was happy and confident in Lucknow. "It's a hectic schedule. I've rallies and meetings from 8 am to 11 pm. But I'm enjoying myself. Yes, I'm learning to be comfortable addressing crowds," Dutt said.
Several stars have already said they would canvass for Dutt, who touched the viewers heart in `Munnabhai' movie series.
Chiranjeevi, to whom stardom is a way of life since he made a grand entry into Telugu cinema with his swashbuckling dancing style, is also getting used to seeing massive cut outs of his with folded hands stand tall across the state. Instead of going to film studios and shoots, he now attends election rallies and is busy building the capacity of his Praja Rajyam party (PRP).
Akin to a hit or flop that determines the star status of an actor, those who have ventured into politics from cinema have also had their share of glorious success stories and some lesser remembered ones. M Karunanidhi, stalwart DMK had written over 100 film scripts before he became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu in the early 70's.
The trend continued with MG Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR, who smartly used his super stardom after differences cropped up between him and Karunanidhi to float AIADMK.
While these cinema greats from South India were making this transition, personalities like the great Prithviraj Kapoor and Nargis, Sanjay Dutt's mother, took up politics and were nominated to the Rajya Sabha after being nominated by the Congress party.
Though Hindi cinema actors were eloquent speakers it were the South Indian actor-politician who managed to draw large and frenzied crowds.
A notable personality in this category is N Rama Rao whose phenomenal rise from a darling actor to shrewd politics is unrivalled.
He formed the TDP, which now is a backbone in forming both state and central governments. Not all great feats can be copied and politics requires a far different tact than acting. Acting greats like Sivaji Ganesan who managed scores of tear jerking performances in Tamil cinema, however, was a "flop" when he entered the election fray and lost assembly polls in 1989.
The legendary Dev Anand also never got the correct political formula and inspite of a spirited strait he had to eventually dissolve his 'National party of India'. One actor who was seen as the common man's representation through his roles and was expected to be a good politician was the mega star Amitabh Bachchan.
The iconic performer, however, could not continue long as a congress party MP in the 80's after the Bofor's weapons scam became a major controversy and he was linked to it, causing him to withdraw from public life.
Though not in active politics anymore he is known for his proximity and being the 'chote bhaiya' of Samajwadi party leader Amar Singh.
What began in the black and white era became a blooming trend well into the Eastman colour age and heart throb actors like Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Shatrugan (shotgun) Sinha and Govinda joined the political ensemble.
These actors have learnt the trick of the trade and still come occasionally on screen even as they do their daily duties as minister, member of Parliament or legislature of an assembly constituency.
These personalities have had their share of bloomers and a one such incident that Dharmendra would like to forget was he went on record to say in the last general elections, "I do not know anything about BJP's philosophy. All I know is that if I am made a dictator for five years, I would clear the mess in this country!"
Actress' too have charmed their way into the heart of the voters in the role of a leader and some successful ones are Jayalalithaa, Jaya Bachchan and Jaya Pradha. Other luminaries from the movie industry who had stint with public life are melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and muscle man Dara Singh.
Most political parties have selected actors with mass appeal but that has not denied actors renowned for character based performances the chance to contest elections and be a full time politician.
In Andhra cinema, character actors like Kota Srinivasa Rao and Mohan Babu were elected to the state assembly on BJP and TDP tickets respectively and the latter also served in the cabinet of former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu.
Bollywood's stage and character actor Raj Babbar forayed into politics in the mid 80's and after making inroads into the public hearts as a "Samajwadi" he has not shifted loyalty to the Congress party and is contesting from Uttar Pradesh.
As if to prove that even they can woo the voter as they do on the little screen, some TV actors also tired to be successful politicians. The `Sita' and `Ravan' of the super hit television serial `Ramayan', Dipika Chikalia and Arvind Trivedi, entered politics while the `Arjun' of Mahabharata serial also made a cameo role of a leader in real life.
A film star is still perceived as larger than life, a hero who is always righteous, incorruptible, invincible and capable of turning fantasy into reality. To the common public, he is a messiah who can do no wrong. Illusory though this image is, it instills trust in the electorate and that is what every political party tries to tap.
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