Monday, 30th October 2017

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Star dust in the eyes

Something is terribly amiss when you can no longer tell actors from politicians and politicians from actors

  • Published 21.07.19, 9:15 AM
  • Updated 21.07.19, 9:15 AM
  • 2 mins read
Tollywood artistes (from left) Parno Mittra, Moumita Gupta, Rupanjana Mitra, Rupa Bhattacharya and Kanchana Moitra join the BJP in the presence of party leaders Mukul Roy and Dilip Ghosh, at the party HQ in New Delhi. (PTI)

Star dust in the eyes

You know something is terribly amiss when you can no longer tell actors from politicians and politicians from actors. And that’s the way it is in Bengal now. Popular actors across India have tried their hands at politics once the screen tired of them; some even way before. Not everyone is as successful as MGR or Jayalalithaa, as respected as Sunil Dutt, as tenacious as Shatrughan Sinha or Raj Babbar, as scathing as Smriti Irani, as amnesiac as Hema Malini (Maine Mathura ke liye kya kiya?). Not all of the star quotient is transferable from reel to real either. Big B was a big flop in this department; Rajesh Khanna, Vinod Khanna, Govinda…flop, flop, flop, that would be the sound of their unsuccess. But it has been proven that a certain guaranteed amount of matinee idol worship assumes the shape of votes.

Perch and the State

Eleven actors from Bengal joined the BJP last week. Indeed, it is now accepted that professionals from the entertainment industry are well-suited than most to represent the hopes, dreams, issues and angers of 9.03 crore people. But in the olden days, the actors here were known for their acting. (Someone like an Utpal Dutt was a rarity, an artiste who espoused a certain political ideology and employed his craft to voice his political views and protests.) When the Indian government instituted the National Film Awards for Best Actor in 1967, Uttam Kumar was the first to receive the award. And yet, when he died in 1980, so particular was the ruling Left Front about maintaining that distance appropriate from a matinee idol, that save for a lone wreath from Jyoti Basu, there was no other state ado.

When in Tollywood…

Three decades later, the Left party had obviously changed perch to a less high horse. In 2009 it distributed campaign CDs, in one of which titled 'Ray of Light', senior actor Soumitra Chatterjee played a CPI(M) veteran. Some years before that, the Trinamul had pitted veteran actress of Charulata fame, Madhabi Mukherjee, against the then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee from Jadavpur in the Assembly elections. But it was only in the run-up to the 2011 Assembly elections and everything thereafter, that star dust got into the eyes. The Tapas Pals, Shatabdi Roys, Rupa Gangulys, Moon Moon Sens, and then, Devs, Lockets, Mimis, Nusrats. And now you have the Parno Mittras, Rrishii Kaushiks, Kanchana Moitras... Actor-turned-filmmaker Aparna Sen said of the new joining that “they" are leaving a "sinking ship”. They, meaning the new BJP joinees. Ship, meaning the Trinamul or its fiefdom. Her choice of adage invoking vermin, far from complimentary. But that is not the point either. The point is why choice of vessel notwithstanding actors feel the need to sail out into the troubled waters at all. What is it that is not enough about the ground beneath their feet, because clearly this is not about the people.

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