Stars play a positive role
Movie stars in 2014’s polls are a welcome addition to the fray. For those carping about how stars represent glamour and gloss, why not? Which political party worth its khaki shorts or khadi cap will ignore someone who draws thousands out to rallies or to vote? Stars fascinate audiences and direct attention to election issues with ease. Stars are also achievers in their own individual right. Few come with the taint of corruption or dynastic privilege. Additionally, they’re careful to preserve their image and avoid controversies. Superstar Amitabh Bachchan was reportedly so upset over the hammering his career took following his political stint, he quit politics entirely. Meanwhile, those who stay mostly make seamless transitions, actors like Jayalalithaa, Khushboo and Sunil Dutt accomplishing non-starry political work.
Conditioned by their field which brings them into constant contact with popular realities and dreams, stars are also keenly aware of social change and community needs. While they bring starry bombast to poll promises, few descend to the kinds of crudities professional politicians, from Ajit Pawar to
, have been noted for. And for critics scowling over how actors trivialise serious issues, career politicians often do exactly the same. This simply highlights the need to raise the bar in Indian politics through better standards of discourse and sharper intellectual norms, rather than closing the door to one entrant only.
To discriminate against one profession wishing to try politics is pure bias. In the 21st century, it makes no sense to limit movie stars – often intelligent, talented beings – only to singing and dancing on screens. To block them from contesting polls resembles a grim new caste divide. To welcome them is to celebrate the inclusive blockbuster our politics truly is.
COUNTERVIEW They’re opportunistic and fickle
With a bevy of actors jumping into the electoral fray, it is hard not to be pessimistic about their efforts. Although films and politics have had a long association in this country, very few actors have made significant contributions in affairs of state. True, people like J Jayalalithaa, N T Rama Rao and Sunil Dutt did successfully make the transition from silver screen to political dais. However, these are exceptions to the rule. A closer look at political track records of film stars reveals they have largely served as showpieces for political parties.
Barring a cynical connection, actors do not have any definitive predisposition for politics. In fact, most political parties offer election tickets to actors only because they do not have viable political candidates in certain constituencies. The thinking is that in the absence of a committed candidate a glamorous one can bedazzle the electorate into casting their votes for the party. Take for example Trinamool Congress’s strategy of fielding several celebrity candidates in the coming
. Former beauty queen and actor Moon Moon Sen is reportedly more bothered about her skin complexion while campaigning in the sweltering heat rather than the interests of the people of Bankura. Meanwhile, superstar Dev has likened media attention to his political debut to rape. Such statements display a clear lack of political acumen.
Be it Govinda, Jayaprada, Raj Babbar or
, most actors-turned-politicians have dabbled in politics for reasons other than serving the public. Perhaps their acting careers are behind them and joining politics is an easy way of remaining in public consciousness. Perhaps they enjoy the perks of elected office. But given that most of them have done very little for their constituencies, actors’ interest in politics is akin to their interest in whichever brand of energy drink they endorse.
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