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Film stars lose their sheen as campaigners in LS polls

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Lucknow, April 8: Till the turn of the Millennium; film stars guaranteed crowds and votes in politics.
Political parties across the country wooed them ardently and top stars of the time, including Rajesh Khanna, Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Jaya Prada, Govinda, Raj Babbar and Jaya Bachchan braved the heat and dust to campaign for their political parties.
Some of the stars contested the elections and managed an easy win. Amitabh Bachchan contested his first election in 1984 from Allahabad and defeated a doyen like Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna.
Amitabh Bachchan quit politics midway after the Bofors controversy, but he returned to Uttar Pradesh briefly in 2007 to campaign for Samajwadi Party.
The superstar held a number of programmes with his friend Amar Singh in which he coined the slogan “UP mein hai dum, kyonki jurm yahan hai kam.”
Some like Dharmendra and Govinda could not understand the complexities of politics and called it a day after one term.
However, an actor from the same era as Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna was a four-time MP who was very dedicated to his constituency Gurdaspur and remained in politics till his demise in 2017. Others like Raj Babbar, Shatrughan Sinha, Hema Malini and Jaya Bachchan continue to stand their ground till date.
Jaya Bachchan has been sent to Rajya Sabha five times by the Samajwadi Party and she campaigns for the party in every election. She has never contested Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Actor Govinda recently joined the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, marking his re-entry into politics after a 14 year hiatus. His last stint in politics, which ended on a sour note in 2009, coincided with his films flopping. Now he hopes to kickstart his political career again at the age of 60. However, if various political parties are to be believed, the stardust is losing its glitter and film stars can no longer guarantee a win on the seats they campaign for.
A clear indication of this is the fact that the demand for actors as campaigners is almost missing in these elections.
A BJP candidate said, “There is no use getting film stars to campaign because they cannot give speeches and do not leave any impact on voters. Moreover, our biggest crowd puller and star is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
According to senior journalist RK Singh, “The stars are losing their credibility because they lack conviction in what they say. People know that in most cases stars take money to campaign and this erodes their sincerity. Some stars have changed more parties than they have delivered hits.”
Besides, he explained, the glamour factor has also reduced because film stars are now seen 24×7 on social media and television, leading to overexposure and fan fatigue.
“Earlier, people would wait for hours to catch a glimpse of their favourite actor but not anymore. You just need to get on to the Internet and you can have your fill,” he added.
Significantly, just like all the other candidates in the fray, Bhojpuri stars Ravi Kishan and Dinesh Yadav Nirahua, who are contesting the Gorakhpur and Azamgarh seats respectively for their second term, are toiling hard in their constituencies to ensure their win.
Raj Babbar explains that it needs more than just stardom to survive in politics.
“Much before I started working in theatre and then films, I was associated with Socialist youth politics. I joined the Janata Dal in 1989 and actively participated in party activities. I later joined the Samajwadi Party and then the Congress. I never confined myself to campaigning and that is one reason why the parties and the people started taking me seriously,” he says.
In these elections, Hema Malini has confined herself to campaigning in her own constituency Mathura and so has Arun Govil who is making his political debut from Meerut.
The campaigns of Jaya Prada, Jaya Bachchan and most others have not even been finalised yet.
Though the actors are used for campaigning, they are seldom allowed to involve themselves in party matters. One actress who spoke to this correspondent on the condition of anonymity said, “I did try to get my word in a few times but was politely told to restrict myself to campaigning. I have understood that apart from my star value, I mean nothing to the party.” (IANS)

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