National parties unlikely to campaign using Hindi actors in Manipur

Till recently, national parties brought Bollywood actors to Manipur on the eve of elections in the hope that the move would ensure large attendance in election meetings. However, in almost all cases, the movers and shakers of national parties were left disappointed. Indications are that this time round, they will not bring stars to attract voters to election meetings.

On one occasion, a national party which was preparing to address a public meeting in Imphal spread a rumour that Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan would address the meeting. Once it became clear that he would not come and that they had been taken for a ride, people who had come for a glimpse of the film star — and not so much to listen to the party leaders — left in a huff.

A woman BJP candidate was in the fray against Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in the last Assembly elections. The party brought Hema Malini to address a meeting. However, the “dream girl” failed to make much of an impression. There was thin attendance even by the standards of Manipur. And people could not understand what the actor said as Hindi is Greek to Manipuris.

In Manipur, stars and superstars of Hindi films are strangers to the younger generation — the vote banks in the State. The Revolutionary People’s Front and its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, in 2001 banned Hindi films from being shown and songs played in Manipur. This was to protest the alleged bludgeoning to death of a leader of the Revolutionary People’s Front by the security personnel.

All these years, no Hindi film has been shown in Manipur. People depend on South Korean and South Indian films, the prints of which are openly sold in the State.

As a counter move, the Centre opened a music channel in All India Radio, Imphal, so that youngsters remained familiar with the official language. However, the move has not helped much. In the absence of films, there is no charm or enthusiasm among boys and girls to familiarise themselves with Hindi.

Correction and Clarification

>>This column has lost count on the number of times it has issued a correction in regard to official language versus national language: In “Where Bollywood stars don’t shine” (March 22, 2014) a sentence read: “As a counter move, the Centre opened a music channel in All India Radio, Imphal, so that youngsters remained familiar with the national language.”(The reference was to Hindi.) Vexed readers point out that Hindi is an official language - not national language. They are right.