The state's political scene is changing with a former police officer and even Kannada film star Upendra taking the plunge into politics. The latter recently launched his Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha (KPJP), carefully crafted as a comman man's party and announced his decision to contest the 2018 elections to the state assembly. His move has predictably created a flurry in Sandalwood, where the opinions are as varied as the individuals who populate it. Director AMR Ramesh and Sa Ra Govindu, president, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce talk to Joyeeta Chakravorty about the journey from cinema to politics.
While director AMR Ramesh and president of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, Sa Ra Govindu have no quarrel with the actor's foray into politics, the former believes he may have taken on more than he can chew.
"I agree every individual has the right to contest elections or establish a political party if he wants to and I am not against celebrities trying their hand at it either. But the question is will they succeed? Politics is a different ball game and experience in the field counts. It's necessary to do some quality ground work like being involved in social work to get closer to the people before stepping into the world of politics . You can't just wake up one day and decide to start a new political party," he reasons.
Mr Sa Ra Govindu , however, begs to differ. "Let celebrities also try their hand at politics. There's no harm if they do. It is an experience and can either be a success or a failure. People have the notion that celebrities cannot make it big in politics, but we never know who may click. Every celebrity has ambitions and entering politics may be one of them," he argues.
But Mr Ramesh interrupts to list celebrities, who came into politics and vanished into thin air. "We can name so many actors, directors and others from films, who entered politics and not did not succeed. There is a wrong notion that because these actors have a huge fan following , people will vote for them. They should learn to differentiate between their onscreen and off- screen presence. Showing heroics in films is different from being a leader in real life. They could end up being mere backdoor politicians," he warns.
But retorts Mr Govindu, "Let us not talk about celebrities winning elections or not. At least they are making an effort to bring about a change in society and we should give them an opportunity. What have all the seasoned politicians done for the common man? Everyone knows the answer to this. So let us give these people a chance and see what they have to offer us. There is no harm in letting celebrities govern the state."
Clearly not in agreement with this point of view , Mr Ramesh elaborates on his argument, saying, "There are big stars, who never helped the common man when needed and now they want to help them by entering politics! Why can't they just serve people for some time and then enter politics? To become a politician you need to be on the streets with the people to understand their problems. Practical experience is important to succeed in politics."
He, however, concludes with a shrug, " It is finally the individual's choice and no one can stop him from doing what he wants." Not a very encouraging summation, but it appears it will have to do for now whether Upendra likes it or not.