Watching Barkah Dutt interviewing Pawan Bansal, Kirron Kher and Gul Panag in Chandigarh recently, it occurred to me that two of those being interviewed are actors and that actors on political platforms is nothing unusual. In fact, an actor metamorphosing into a politician is all too common. Whether it’s Salman Khan flying a kite with Narendra Modi or Raj Babbar campaigning hard in his constituency Ghaziabad, the Bollywood-Politics connection seems to manifest everywhere.
There is something in politics that holds an irresistible lure for Bollywood stars – those who are currently working in films as well as stars of yesteryears. So many actors turn to politics that it seems rather like a natural progression for the film fraternity to graduate to this altered, but still public persona. From N T Ramarao, Jayalalitha and M G Ramachandran to Govinda, Cheeranjeevi and Sanjay Dutt there has been an inextricable link between politics and show biz.
Actors currently in politics
The most doughty and formidable actor-turned-politician would undoubtedly be Jayalalithaa Jayaram current Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The protégé of late M G Ramachandran is a force to reckon with, on every level on Indian politics.
Telugu actor Cheeranjeevi did not just enter politics; he even floated his own party, the Praja Rajyam. Amitabh Bachchan may have exited politics after his rather misguided foray into it, but there are many current Members of Parliament who either still are, or formerly were actors – Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Jayaprada, Govinda, Shatrughan Sinha and Vinod Khanna are all current Members of Parliament.
Then there are also some new entrants into the fray – actor and TV personality Kirron Kher has been declared the BJP candidate from Chandigarh for the Loksabha elections, 2014. Actor-activist Gul Panag is the candidate fielded by the Aam Aadmi Party from Chandigarh for the upcoming general elections.
Political parties court actors
An actor is already a known personality – someone who is well known to the public, with a popular persona. Political parties want to take advantage of this fame and popularity by getting an actor to become a part of the party, to represent it, to speak on its behalf and to further its political agenda. Good looks, charm and a personal charisma of the sort that an actor may possess would certainly be valuable to a political party.
The chances of a well known popular candidate vis a vis those of an unknown for winning an election are obviously better because they actor brings along with herself or himself star power, fame and also the public recall of roles previously enacted in films. The general public tends to think of actors as possessing at least some of the heroic qualities of the roles that they have played on screen.
Actors have a natural inclination to public life
Actors themselves may also be naturally inclined to public life. Not only are they used to being in the media, being written about, being photographed and interviewed, they also perhaps have gotten used to being feted and fawned over; they are used to the privileges that fame and success bring along. At least for some actors, being a politician has to be preferable to the relative ignominy of anonymity?
Many actors also feel strongly about issues and are perhaps moved to enter into politics to bring about the change that they hope to see. Further, an actor may find it easier to stand on a platform before a gathering of thousands and declaim passionately about an issue than you or I. Actors are used to being in the public eye, being followed by the paparazzi, their every move observed, analysed and commented upon. The shift to politics is not that much different, though most actors find that they have to grow a thicker skin when they enter into the political arena.
Aamir Khan chooses not to endorse any political party and stays away from active politics in that sense. However his show Satyamev Jayate is very much a part of political activism – the show is as much about bringing about political change and changing mindsets as it is about entertainment. Also, a politician projects a certain image of themselves – much as an actor does. There is a lot of pomp and circumstance, drama and theatrics involve in politics – much like acting and show biz.
So politics really is show biz – soon we are to have the greatest and most entertaining spectacle of all: the 2014 General Elections which promise to surpass anything in show biz in terms of sheer scale and sweep. Movie audiences and the voting public may prepare for one hell of a ride…
By – Reena Daruwalla
See also –
Video courtesy – NDTV YouTube Channel