Film stars and directors will be crossing swords in the May 16 Assembly polls in Kerala with political parties fielding at least six persons from the industry, aiming to cash in on their popularity.
All three major parties in the polls – Congress, CPI(M) and BJP – have roped in a handful of matinee idols to woo voters.
The politically-conscious voters of Kerala normally keep celebrities at bay. However, the victory of Actor Innocent in the last Lok Sabha polls seems to have heralded a new trend.
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Besides four actors, including popular stars like Mukesh and Jagadish, who have been in the industry for over three decades, two directors will also try their luck in the electoral politics this time.
While CPI(M) will support actor-turned-politician and Kerala Congress (B) leader K B Ganesh Kumar, who snapped ties with ruling UDF, in Pathanapuram, Congress has roped in noted character-artist and comedian Jagadish to take on him in the constituency.
As BJP has fielded actor Bheeman Reghu against them, Pathanapuram is expected to witness a triangular ‘star war’.
Expressing confidence of a victory, Reghu said the response he has been getting is “overwhelming”.
“Though I am known to everybody being an actor, I am trying to reach out to all my voters through door-to-door campaign,” Reghu said.
Though Ganesh Kumar, Jagadish and Bheeman Reghu have shared screen in several Malayalam movies, fierce campaigning and war of words among them is a common feature.
Ganesh, who had to quit the UDF Ministry after his estranged wife filed a domestic violence complaint against him, recently courted controversy by levelling personal allegations against Jagadish.
Another star contestant, Mukesh, a permanent presence in slapstick movies and known for the films like ‘Ramjirao Speaking’, ‘In Harihar Nagar’ and ‘Godfather’, will be contesting Kollam on a CPI(M) ticket.
Son of veteran thespian O Madhavan, who established renowned drama company Kalidasa Kala Kendra, Mukesh has been a known sympathiser of the Left ideology.
CPI(M) chose him in the key constituency with the belief that Mukesh’s multi-faceted personality as a writer, TV host and producer, besides actor, could easily strike a chord with the people.
However, the party’s decision to give ticket to Mukesh, replacing veteran leader and sitting MLA P K Gurudasan, had initially irked a section of party workers.
Film directors A Rajasenan and Ali Akbar would be trying their lucks from Aruvikkara and Koduvally constituencies respectively.
National award-winning actor and self-confessed BJP sympathiser Suresh Gopi is the most discussed celebrity name, expected in the candidate list, notwithstanding the fact that he has decided to keep from poll politics this time.
He will be main campaigner for the party though.
Though CPI(M) decided to field veteran actress and party loyalist KPAC Lalitha from Wadakkanchery, she later bowed out citing health reasons, after there were some protests over her candidature from local cadres.
The names of actors Siddhiq and Ashokan had also been under active consideration of different parties.
It has been a mixed bag for film personalities taking the electoral plunge in the state in the past.
Actor Innocent, also president of Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA), had won Chalakkudy
constituency as a CPI(M)-backed independent in the last Lok Sabha polls.
Eminent film maker Ramu Kariat, who directed the path-breaking movie ‘Chemmeen’, the first National Award winning film in Malayalam, was elected to the Assembly in 1964 from Nattika as an independent candidate backed by the Communist Party.
However, veteran actor Murali, who tried his luck in the Lok Sabha polls in 1999 on the CP(M) ticket, was defeated by V M Sudheeran of the Congress.
Though Malayalam’s ‘evergreen’ hero late Prem Nazir joined the Congress party, he did not make it to electoral politics.