Charisma or Personality of a leader has been a defining factor in Indian Politics but looking at the recent competition of Indian political parties to woo the cine world celebrities, it seems that the politics of today is thriving for publicity from these star faces more than the governance.
With the Lok Sabha elections just a few months away, the PM Narendra Modi-led BJP is looking to mark its footprints into as many varied constituencies as it can and the Hindi film industry turns out to be a key feature of PM’s modus operandi.
In the recent past, there have been three frequent events where Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part and interacted with the faces from the cinema world and his pictures with the big-shot Bollywood celebrities got enough social media traction. Taking a dig at these meetings of the PM with the big screen names, Netizens wondered ‘if Modi is looking out for his career further’.
Last week, at the inauguration of India’s first cinema museum in Mumbai, crème-de-la-crème of the film industry gathered along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi who brought up the curtain on. Bollywood stars including Manoj Kumar, Jeetendra, Aamir Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty, Aanand L Rai attended with the rest. While many got the opportunity to capture a selfie with the PM, Imtiaz Ali, Karan Johar, Dinesh Vijan, and Kartik Aaryan decided to take a “backfie” which shows the PM in the background with his back turned to them. Aaryan tweeted the same captioning “Losers’ backfie with the honorable PM!” and to that, Modi with added humour replied, “Not losers but Rockstars! No selfie Jab We Met but there will always be another occasion.”
Director of recently released movie Thackeray, Abhijeet Panse spoke to AV and asserted, “People will definitely have a craze for the celebrities; on the other hand, more than having a starry face, celebrities must stand for the ideologies of that particular political party. We have seen an instance of Congress candidate actor Govinda winning the Mumbai North seat with a great margin; however, today’s young voters are more politically matured and they don’t get carried away by popular faces. BJP-wave is fading and it was evident in the recent five-state poll results. Thus, the party is wooing celebrities for election support and Congress too has similar strategies. I believe only a celebrity who has a contribution in social welfare should become a face of the elections.”
While Actor Kishori Shahane stated, “A celebrity must have a positive image among the voters and should have contribution towards the society if he/she wishes to get into active politics. Such starry faces if fielded in elections give a good message to both the youth voters and also the respective political party.”
Kartik Aaryan, the small time artist recently caught the eyeballs of everyone and came into the limelight after Bollywood actors Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh’s daughter Sara Ali Khan openly on national television confessed that she had a crush on him. The actor, whose journey into the film industry is not so big, later became the focus of attention after being called a ‘Rockstar’ by the PM. Modi’s reply garnered over eight thousand re-tweets and has been liked over 51,000 times so far.
In the previous elections, we have also seen actor Anupam Kher, Pallavi Joshi, Raveena Tandon, Madhuri Dixit, Lata Mangeshkar, and a series of celebrities being saffronised with their hell-bent support for the party. All these big names are now huge BJP supporters and the party somehow sailed through their charisma. However, the irony strikes when we hardly or never see social workers, revolutionaries, rationalists, or even journalists get the chance to meet PM so often.
Actor Smita Tambe expressed, “If a celebrity is participating in the election campaigning, he/she must have interest in politics and their contribution should be voluntary and not because some political party is approaching them. In today’s time, Indian politics is hampered with debates on castes and regions and celebrities should talk in the national interest rather than getting into caste politics.”
Be it Hema Malini, Kirron Kher or television face Smriti Irani, BJP has always picked overhyped starry candidates for them. Other political parties, be it national or regional, are also not far behind in the swing. Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh had put forward a demand that actress Kareena Kapoor should be given a chance to contest Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal on party ticket arguing that Kapoor has a great fan-following among the youngsters and they will vote for her, though the 38-year-old actor clarified that she has neither been approached nor she has such plans to enter politics and wants to focus on acting. Moreover, reports of talks too exist around fielding Salman Khan from Indore among the party leaders.
Film Celebrities have been participating in Indian politics for a long time and Prithviraj Kapoor was the earliest film personality to enter into politics. In the following years, Indian politics has seen many celebrity footprints. In 1984, Amitabh Bachchan had taken a break from acting to contest Lok Sabha elections and was elected as Congress Lok Sabha MP from Allahabad; superstar Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt, and Rekha are also added in the list. Similarly, Samajwadi Party chose Jaya Prada as a part of the party.
Bollywood has a lot of money, charm and fan following; the entertainment industry and Politics are going hand in gloves these days. However, it seems that the utility of these heroes and heroines are only for publicity as post-election, they have no social contribution. Movie stars into politics act as a commercial gain for both the sides. The politicians support the film industry by giving them subsidies or by knocking out stringent laws that go against cinema business. On the other hand, the entertainment world personas too align themselves with the political parties mostly for their benefit.
Talking about why the political parties choose to field popular personalities from the entertainment industry, Congress MP Sushmita Dev said, “Cine world personalities definitely have a huge fan following; it favours the political parties and also its youth leaders. We have seen Amitabh Bachchan fighting in the elections from Congress and the party got a good mandate. Our party always depends on the grass root workers’ opinion before fielding a celebrity in the elections. Popular entertainment industry faces are given those seats where the party strength is weaker than the rest.” On the other hand, BJP MP Jyoti Dhurve called BJP ‘a cadre-based party’ and said, “BJP always prioritises its workers more than the popular celebrity faces; party workers are our strength and the starry faces are never the key element for the party’s election campaigning.”