All this suggests that cinema in India is intrinsically linked to politics and everyday life. In fact, the moving medium has been the breeding ground, so to say, for a host of politicians.
India’s Parliament at New Delhi has seen many screen luminaries including some major Bolywood artists such as Jaya Bachchan, Hema Malini, Shabana Azmi, Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Raj Babbar and Sunil Dutt. Khanna was the Minister of State for External Affairs in the former Atul Behari Vajpayee Government. Dutt was the Minister for Sports till his recent death in the present Manmohan Singh Government.
At one point of time, even India’s super star, Amitabh Bachchan, who has often been called “a one-man industry”, dabbled in politics.
At another level, politicians such the late N.T. Rama Rao and the late Annadurai, Chief Ministers of the southern Indian States of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu respectively, held an unbelievable grip over the people. Rao’s innumerable movie roles as mythological characters and Hindu gods gave him a halo. People literally revered him, and he won elections easily.
Annadurai wrote film scripts and wove his political propaganda into them. Translated into screenplays and movies, the scripts became a powerful visual tool to attract electoral votes.
The present Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, was once the ravishing star of the Tamil language screen, and she got her first political lessons from Ramachandran and Karunanidhi. She is now fighting for her next term as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Pitted against her is her once-upon-a-time mentor, Karunanidhi.
And as popular cinema songs blare from loudspeakers in the cities and towns of Tamil Nadu, creating the magic of motion pictures, one gets the feeling that the entire State resembles a gigantic movie set.
(Posted on this website on May 5 2006)
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