Less than a week ago, Kannada actress Divya Spandana, aka Ramya, created history by winning the recently concluded by-elections in Mandya constituency (Karnataka) and thereby becoming the youngest female MP in the country. Her victory — by 47,000 votes — became the talking point of the Congress party’s spectacular victory over the ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in the state. A surfeit of mana Tollywood stars are all set to
create a bit of history of their own when Andhra Pradesh will go to polls next year.
As many as 24 film personalities are lobbying for a chance to contest in 2014 elections. From superstars, character artistes, comedians, villains, directors and producers, everybody is in the list of hopefuls looking for their share of election glory. Telugu matinee idols have been an integral part of Andhra Pradesh politics for a long time now and their numbers are set to swell even more with the likes of Balakrishna and Srihari leading the pack of new entrants into the political fray. Speculation has it that director VV Vinayak is lobbying to bag a ticket to contest from West Godavari district.
Stage set for Balakrishna’s tour de-force Balayya has been actively campaigning for TDP — founded by his father, the late NTR — since last elections. Ever since announcing his decision to enter active politics last July, the actor has been travelling around the state, interacting with the local party cadre. He was also seen beside party president Chandrababu Naidu kicking off his 208-day-long state wide padyatra.
Also, his next film, being directed by Boyapati Sreenu, is going to have strong political overtone and is billed as his “political show reel”, scheduled to release before the election next year. However, the actor is keeping his cards close to chest as far as announcing where he will contest from is concerned. “What is the hurry? I belong to all the regions of the state and I’m open to contesting from wherever the party wants me to. I am entering politics to serve the people of the state and it doesn’t matter from where I contest,” the actor was quoted as saying recently. Speculation has it that constituencies under consideration are Gudiwada, Hindupuram, Tenamaluru, Gannavaram and Nuziveedu.
Real Star Srihari, however, made public his desire to contest from Kukatpally constituency on a Congress party ticket. “Besides being a self-made actor, I’ve proven myself as a role model in multiple capacities — as a son, brother, friend, husband and father. I’ve been serving people in an individual capacity until recently and will make an able leader as well,” declared the actor, “I grew up in Kukatpally and would love to contest from there.”
It’s a free for all If Srihari has his wish, he will be going head on with noted civil rights activist and founder of Lok Satta JP Narayan — the sitting MLA from Kukatpally constituency. It might look like an unequal battle in terms of political credentials and makes one wonder how a “mass star” like Srihari could be so confident. Dr E Sathya Prakash, faculty, Film Studies at University of Hyderabad, explains it saying, “In our country, popular mobilisation isn’t just restricted to proven public service credentials.
A lot of factors like caste, religion, or popular appeal play a huge part. Even leadership isn’t provided in a rulebook-based constitutional fashion. In a media saturated world, there is an appeal movie stars have being icons, they enjoy a brand value and are seen as crowd pullers, irrespective of how many votes they eventually win. So, film personalities and politicians have shared a symbiotic relationship in the country, especially South India. A lot of movies are funded by the black money of politicians and film personalities in return either campaign or contest for them. They both feed off each
Perhaps that explains the speculation about director Puri Jagannath following his elder brother, Ganesh in joining the YSRCP (YS Rajasekhara Reddy Congress Party) soon. With Ganesh set to contest in the next elections, Puri is expected to at least campaign for him. Puri had announced plans to make a film based on the life of YSR soon after the former Chief Minister’s tragic death in September 2009. Also, rumours are rife that yesteryear
actress Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Prada has sent feelers to various political parties in the state expressing her willingness to contest from Andhra Pradesh in the next elections.
Sparks will fly With a deluge of stars like Chiranjeevi, Vijayashanthi, Mohan Babu, Dasari Narayana Rao, Krishnam Raju, Murali Mohan, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Suman, Roja, Rajasekhar, Jeevitha, things are all set to hot up as they will fore barbs against each other. During last elections, the heated personal exchanges between the stars are still fresh in public memory. If incidents like agitated mega fans pelting stones at Rajasekhar and Jeevitha
for their comments about Chiru, actress Roja’s acidic tirade against Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan and vice-versa are anything to go by, this year could see plenty more dirty linen being washed in public soon. Former TDP MLA and reigning AP Film Chamber of Commerce President, NV Prasad believes it’s natural for sparks to fly this time around as well. “Politics is different and scathing criticism and exaggerated praise go hand-in-hand.
Anybody who wants to serve people can come into politics. Once in the fray, politicians sign up to face the heat for good or bad. Film personalities are no different,” he says.