When stars come down to earth

The crowd-pullers: (Clockwise from top left) Sanjay Dutt, Manoj Tiwari, Amar Singh, Jaya Bachchan and Jayaprada; Salman Khan; Hema Malini and Chiranjeevi woo the public.

The crowd-pullers: (Clockwise from top left) Sanjay Dutt, Manoj Tiwari, Amar Singh, Jaya Bachchan and Jayaprada; Salman Khan; Hema Malini and Chiranjeevi woo the public.   | Photo Credit: Photos: Akhilesh Kumar, Vivek Bendre and K.V. Poor


Polls Come election time, film personalities roped in by various political parties, hit the dusty campaign trails. They even oblige fans with movie songs and dialogue.

The other day, a little before he hit the headlines with his offer to give a ‘jaadoo ki jhappi’, a magical hug, to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Sanjay Dutt was asked by a crowd of voters in Lucknow to mouth dialogue from his signature ‘Munnabhai’ series. And the talented star immediately obliged, using the Gandhigiri dialogue to good effect.

Dutt is not the only film star to have the tables turned on him by his fans during the election campaign. His seniors such as Hema Malini, Jeetendra, Mithun Chakraborty, Zeenat Aman, contemporaries such as Jayaprada, Nagma, Chiranjeevi, Salman Khan and rising stars such as Manoj Tiwari have all had to sing and dance to the tune of the would-be voters!

Not only do the stars have to literally dirty their hands and shoes on the campaign trail, they also have to step down from their lofty pedestal to cater to the demands of their fans. And all this, often for a candidate they are unlikely to have met in life earlier.

Keeping mosquitoes at bay

Just last week, Hema Malini, a member of the Rajya Sabha canvassing for the BJP candidate Ashok Pradhan, had a hard time keeping buzzing mosquitoes at bay in Bulandshahar. The worst was to follow. As she got up to address a sizeable audience, an old man shouted from a distance: “Madam, koi favourite dialogue to sunaiye!” Hema, all grace and poise, overcame initial shock well enough and mouthed, “Basanti aaj teri ijjat ka sawal hai”, adding the name of Pradhan to the sentence to great effect!

Incidentally, last time round in the same area, Macmohan, the Samba of ‘Sholay,’ had to utter his lines from the film more than once for the audiences.

The challenge was almost as spontaneous for Jayaprada in Rampur. Already fighting her own party MLA besides political opponent, Jayaprada had to handle this at a rally: “Woh dekho, dafliwali aa gayi!” (Look there, the dafliwali has come) A reference to her first Hindi hit, ‘Sargam’, the remark did not end there. A man, in crumpled kurta-pyjama with a shabby headgear to stave off the afternoon sun, screamed, “Zara ‘Dafliwale’ pe naach ke to dikhaye”! (Please do a jig to Dafliwale). Quite used to people shouting slogans for her party MLA, Azam Khan, at her rallies, Jayaprada was shocked by this request, before gathering her thoughts to reply, “Uske liye to aapko cinema hall jaana padega!” (You will have to go to a cinema hall for that.)

Salman though has had no such compunctions, winning support for the BJP, NCP and Congress candidates, doing a jig, waving hand, reprising favourite lines.

Singing for votes

More or less same has been the experience of Manoj Tiwari, the Amitabh Bachchan of Bhojpuri cinema. In Gorakhpur he has had to sing for his audience, at times reproducing songs of his hit films such as ‘Daroga Babu I Love You’ or ‘Sasura Bada Paise Wala’ or better still, coming up with impromptu numbers on corruption, communalism and casteism. That he used to be a singer before he made it as a star obviously helps!

Yesteryear sensation Zeenat Aman, however, was not as receptive. Recently, on the campaign trail, the audiences wanted her to dance to ‘Laila Main Laila’. Aman though, smiled through it all, quite clear in her mind that the real and the reel do not overlap.

Incidentally, Mithun was not quite as lucky. As he was supposed to turn up in support of Pranab Mukherjee, Mithun da was mobbed, resulting in such pandemonium, that he hardly could hear his fans’ screaming forecast: “Dada Disco Dance karega!” (Dada will do disco dance!)

South Indian stars such as Chiranjeevi and Vijayakanth have been luckier. Even as many have shouted out the dialogue from their super hit films, others have prostrated before them, leaving the stars quite amused!

The worst campaign moment, however, has been in store for Jeetendra, the Jumping Jack. As he was canvassing support for the Congress in Maharashtra, the star had to duck a shoe hurled towards him from the crowd!

Shoes and songs. Dances and dialogue. This really is the time when the stars come down to the earth.

Recommended for you