Seventy-nine-year-old Neemu Bhoumik has jumped the cut from Tollywood to become one of the key actors in the political stage. As the BJP’s candidate from Raiganj in North Dinajpur district, Bhoumik, in his own words, is “getting all the love and respect from people that I get as an actor”.
After his debut in Bagha Jatin in 1958 and having acted in over 35 films, Bhoumik is here “to raise people’s problems in Parliament”.
“A slew of promises were made to the people of Raiganj — from setting up of an AIIMS campus to the improvement of National Highway 34. It is a nightmare to travel on that road. The Dalkhola flyover has not yet been constructed. The railway link between Raiganj and Siliguri, too, has not been built. People here had just been taken for a ride by the politicians,” Bhoumik told The Indian Express when his campaign stopped at a tea stall in Chanditalla for a break.
The thespian, who straddled both the worlds of celluloid and stage with command, quickly makes it clear that he has learnt the art of politics. “I am telling people, this time a (Narendra) Modi-led government is definitely coming to power at the Centre and so there is no use in voting for a Congress or CPM candidate. If you vote for me, I will be able to raise your problems (in Parliament).’’
Bhoumik, who is originally from Rabindrapally in Raiganj, flaunts his roots with fanfare. “I am a real Bhumiputra. The other candidates here are outsiders. People know this and they will vote for me.”
In collaboration with other actors, the octogenarian set up the first group theatre in Bengal in 1980. The theatre still evinces enough interest among people even as women and young girls flock to shake hands with him.
“He is still good looking. We will vote for him. Not for Modi but for Neemuda,’’ Purnima Magar, a school teacher, said.
Bhoumik is one of the three celebrity candidates that the BJP has fielded in West Bengal. Music composer Bappi Lahiri from Sreerampore and singer Babul Supriyo from Asansol are the other two BJP candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.