NEW DELHI: When megastar Amitabh Bachchan decided in the mid-eighties to wash his hands off politics (except on screen), one expected that very few from his fraternity would dare take the plunge.
However, there were a few like Raj Babbar, Shatrughan Sinha and Sunil Dutt who entered politics. Perhaps the only notable entry from the Hindi cinema industry after that was Vinod Khanna, though several south Indian actors either joined the state or centre arena.
The love between the two magnified as many political parties, particularly Bharatiya Janata Party and Trinamool Congress went all out to woo those from the reel world to the real world. Perhaps this exposure to politics and largely the anti-corruption wave that swept the country in the wake of Anna Hazare’s movement resulted in probably the largest number of film personalities entering the fray for the 2014 polls.
The 16th Lok Sabha elections saw as many as 40 film personalities from different states, representing different parties campaigning, and many of them surprised all by coming out with flying (party) colours.
But for the film industry, the constituencies that were worth watching were the ones where the members of the same fraternity pitted against each other.
Of the most keenly watched battles was of Kirron Kher of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Aam Admi Party’s Gul Panag. Kher was shown black flags when she first went to Chandigarh, unlike Panag and yet, Kher came out with flying colours. She defeated a veteran like Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress, though many from her constituency said it was more a victory of the party than of the actor herself.
Similarly, Mumbai West saw item girl Rakhi Sawant who represented the Rashtriya Aam Party battling it out with Mahesh Manjrekar who represented the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and ultimately emerged as the winner.
The not-so-‘khamosh’ Shatrughan Sinha once again successfully represented the BJP from Patna Saheb in Bihar where he faced Bhojpuri actor Kunal Singh of the Congress.
In Birbhum, actor Satabdi Roy of the Trinamool Congress successfully trounced actor Joy Banerjee of the BJP. Similarly, Singer Indranil Sen from TMC expectedly trounced Sidhanth Mahapatra of the Biju Janata Dal from Behrampur.
For the BJP, versatile singer Bablu Supriya from Asansol, senior actor Hema Malini in Mathura despite initial criticism, Hindi and Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari in North East Delhi, versatile actor Paresh Rawal from Ahmedabad East, and veteran Vinod Khanna from Gurdaspur emerged winners.
Television actress Smiriti Irani from the high-profile constituency Amethi lost but with a considerably reduced margin, and others who lost included Nimu Bhowmik in Raiganj, George Baker representing Howrah and music maestro Bappi Lahiri from Serampore.
For the Trinamool Congress, glamorous actor Moon Moon Sen in Bankura, reigning Bengali star Deb (Deepak Adhikari) in Ghatal, Sandhya Sen in Midnapore, actor Arpita Ghosh in Balurghat, and actor Tapas Paul in Krishnagar reached the finishing line ahead of the others, while actor Soumitra Roy from Malda North, and former Bollywood star Biswajit (Chatterjee) from New Delhi had to face defeat.
The Congress had the largest number of star losers. They included Kannada heroine Ramya in Mandya, the high profile Raj Babbar in Ghaziabad, actor Aparajita Mohanty in Cuttack, veteran Oriya film actor Bijay Mohanty from Bhubaneswar, Hindi and Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan from Jaunpur, petite actress Nagma in Meerut, actor Jayasudha in Secunderabad, actor Vijaya Shanthi from Medak, and D Napoleon from Perambalur in Tamil Nadu who was a Minister in the outgoing government.
The AAP faced a similar fate with TV actress Rina Rani who contested from Maharajganj and the actor-dancer Javed Jaffery (son of former comedy actor Jagdeep) from Lucknow being shown the door.
Actor Innocent representing the Communist Party of India (Marxist) from Chalakkudy in Kerala emerged victor, while renowned award-winning director Prakash Jha representing the Janata Dal (United) from West Champaran in Bihar and former actor Jayaprada of Rashtriya Lok Dal from Bijnor had to face defeats.
Actor Murali Mohan won from the Rajahmundry seat for the Telugu Desam Party.
At present, the Rajya Sabha has Javed Akhtar, Jaya Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty, K Chiranjeevi, Rekha and producer T Subbarami Reddy as members. Smriti Irani who lost to Rahul Gandhi also continues to be member of the Rajya Sabha.
One cannot ignore the fact that while Bollywood has generally not been very successful in north India, the southern film industry is rich with examples of film-politicians. Some of the popular names are S S Rajendran (SSR), M G Ramachandran, J Jayalalithaa , S Chandrasekar.
It remains to be seen if the film personalities will rise above to serve the people or will add glamour to the lower house of Parliament.