March 16th, 2004
Govinda to take on Ram
New Delhi, March 15: So what if the BJP has Ram on its side, the Congress has Hero Number 1.
Bollywood actor Govinda today met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as the party sent out a clear signal to Union petroleum minister Ram Naik, the BJP big gun in the Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat, to prepare for “poll battle number one”.
A formal announcement on the entry of Govinda, the much-talked about candidate to take on Naik, is likely to be made in the presence of Sonia when she releases her party’s election manifesto at the AICC headquarters on Thursday.
At its meeting on Saturday, the Congress central election committee chaired by Sonia is believed to have discussed Govinda’s name as the probable candidate against Naik.
Emerging from a 45-minute meeting with the Congress chief at her 10 Janpath residence, Govinda said he decided to join the party after giving a serious thought to the idea. “Taking a step forward is meaningful only when it is taken after a deep thought and there is no backtracking,” the actor said responding to queries from reporters.
Govinda, who has extensively campaigned for the Congress in Punjab and Uttaranchal during the Assembly polls over two years ago, was obviously hinting that his move to join the party was a step in the direction of entering the poll fray as a candidate.
Asked whether his meeting with Sonia and the decision to join the party indicated his readiness to fight against Naik, Govinda merely said: “Till now, I have been campaigning for the party in elections. You have to wait for sometime to know what role I adopt this time.”
Govinda is the second star from the Bollywood stable to join the party after actress of yesteryears Moushumi Chatterjee recently enrolled as a primary member. Half a dozen other stars — both former and current — have endorsed the party by appearing from its platform in the last 10 days.
Apun Ka Choice
March 17th, 2004
|Bachchan signs 10-crore deal with Emami|
|17th Mar 2004 09.40 IST |
By ApunKaChoice Bureau
Just last month we told you that Amitabh Bachchan is learnt to have agreed to a whopping 10-crore deal with cosmetic company Emami. It is confirmed now, Emami has indeed signed the mega superstar as its brand ambassador.
Emami has added Bachchan to its list of brand ambassadors, which includes Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and cine actress Madhuri Dixit also.
The deal is valued at Rs 10 crore for a period of one year, making it the biggest ever transaction between the star and a corporate entity, company sources said in Mumbai recently.
"Bachchan, as we all know, is an institution by himself. Very few know that the superstar has a deep knowledge and understanding of plants and herbs and their medicinal values", Joint chairman of the Rs 600 crore Emami group of companies R S Agarwal said in a release in Mumbai.
Bollywood stars Sunny Deol and Govinda are other two brand ambassadors for the company.
Bachchan said, "There will be great synergy to this association between Emami and myself, which I am sure will be a long and fruitful one".
The Kolkata-based entity started as a manufacturer of beauty products, toiletry and cosmetics in 1974.
The Times of India
March 19th, 2004
'I will never join politics'
19 Mar 2004, 0315 hrs IST,KARISHMA SHAHANI,TNN
HAVING surpassed all limits of eccentricity, Nana Patekar still maintains himself as a deviant actor whom no one else can imitate.
Make the mistake of pointing that out to him and he retorts, “Nobody can do a Govinda as well as Govinda can. That’s the way it is in the industry.” In a brief interview with PT, Patekar allowed us a peek into his very guarded private life.
Calling himself a thoroughbred Puneite, Patekar says he goes to Mumbai only for work. “Acting is a good profession, but it has only been my hobby for the last 35 years. I run a printing press from where I get my bread. If at all I get any butter, it comes from acting,” he mocks, his wry sense of humour very much intact.
The latest buzz making the rounds in the industry is that Nana’s son, Malhar, is soon going to follow in his fathers footsteps under the arclights. Says Nana, “As of now, Malhar is learning cinematography. He will get into acting eventually.”
While others in the team of Ab Tak Chhappan, are still gloating over the movie’s success, Nana (who plays a cop with a penchant for encounters) certainly doesn’t show any signs of self-satisfied bliss, post the movie.
What’s more, he even dismisses any sort of praise accorded to him for the role.
One never knows what to expect from the actor, and the same holds true for his professional inclinations.
“I don’t know anything about my future projects. I am absolutely ignorant about what I will do next. I don’t know if I’ll linger around or quit,” he says matter-of-factly.
His down-to-earth demeanour, and portrayal of ‘common man’ characters connect him with his fans on a very real level. While attending a seminar on spine problems organised by a city hospital, P a t e k a r signed each and every autograph, speaking to everyone on a one-on-one basis. Perhaps that’s what makes him such a hit among the masses.
He’s no super hero. And he doesn’t pretend to be one either. The latest trend of Bollywood actors making a beeline for politics for monetary benefits is a well-known fact. Does Nana hope for such a role too? “I will never join politics under any circumstances.
As for those who have, its their choice,” he says. As for his personal life, his wife and son are closely ensconced into it. And Manisha Koirala is very much a ghost of his past. Says he, “I am very happy with them. Manisha Koirala is the past. I don’t like talking about bygones.”
The Times of India
March 20th, 2004
Sonia will decide nominees for 9 LS seats from state
20 Mar 2004, 0039 hrs IST,Prakash Joshi,TNN
MUMBAI: AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra Vayalar Ravi on Friday handed over a list of nine Lok Sabha constituencies to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to enable her to take the final decision on the party’s nominees for the forthcoming elections.
The list includes three Lok Sabha constituencies from Mumbai—Mumbai South, Mumbai North Central and Mumbai North—represented by Union minister Jayawantiben Mehta, Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi and petroleum minister Ram Naik respectively in the 13th Lok Sabha.
According to sources, former MRCC president Murli Deora’s son Milind and former minister B.A. Desai’s name have been shortlisted for the Mumbai South seat. The Federation of Republican Party of India (RPI) has staked its claim to the Mumbai North Central seat which Raja Dhale of the BRP-Bahujan Mahasangh had contested last time against Shiv Sena’s Joshi. RPI leader R.S. Gavai has urged Sonia to give the seat to the federation as it will ensure the transfer of 25 lakh Dalit votes from other constituencies in the city to to the Congress and the NCP. Film star Govinda is almost certain to be fielded from Mumbai North. However, Sonia will take the final decision.
MPCC chief Ranjit Deshmukh is seeking nomination from Ramtek constituency in Vidarbha, which is represented by Union minister for heavy industries Subodh Mohite. Former minister Shrikant Jichakar has also evinced interest in the constituency as he has been denied ticket from Bhandara, which he lost by 2000 votes in 1999. The NCP will field Praful Patel from Bhandara.
Meanwhile, neither the Congress nor the BJP has announced its candidate from Solapur. Sitting BJP MP from the constituency Pratapsinh Mohite Patil is not inclined to enter the fray due to tremendous pressure from NCP chief Sharad Pawar and deputy chief minister Vijaysinh Mohite Patil. If he decides against contesting, chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s wife Ujwala is likely to be fielded from this prestigious constituency.
Sonia will take the final decision on the candidate from Akola after assessing the RPI’s response to the Congress’ offer, particularly if RPI leader Prakash Ambedkar is willing to join a Congress-led front in the state.
The Congress will contest 28 out of the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.
March 21st, 2004
Sonia, Pawar seal seat deal
New Delhi, March 20: After protracted negotiations for over a month, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party today announced details of a seat-sharing deal in Maharashtra.
This is the third important state where the Congress has managed to seal a pre-poll alliance after Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar had earlier parted ways with the Congress in 1999 over party chief Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin.
The new alliance, followed by the seat-sharing agreement today, will see Sonia and Pawar address rallies jointly in the state. The two have not shared the dais for five years.
As part of the agreement, the Congress will field candidates from 26 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra while the NCP will field its candidates from 18.
Of the remaining four seats, three have been allotted to three factions of the Republican Party of India (RPI). The remaining seat will go to the Janata Dal (S).
The Congress-led alliance to take on the Shiv Sena-BJP combine would have been a total success but for some minor exclusions like Prakash Ambedkar, who leads the fourth faction of the RPI in the state.
Ambedkar has not joined the alliance yet. Also not on board is the Peasant and Workers’ Party (PWP).
The RPI leader has insisted on three seats for his faction whereas the Congress is prepared to leave out only the Akola seat which he had won in 1999.
Talks are on with him and in case he relents, Akola, which is now with the Congress, would be given to him, AICC general secretary in-charge of the state Vayalar Ravi indicated.
NCP leader Praful Patel said his party and the Congress have not reached a seat-sharing deal outside Maharashtra but the Congress has agreed to leave a few seats for the NCP.
Basirhat in Bengal, Katihar in Bihar, Rajkot in Gujarat, North Goa and Manipur Outer seats will see candidates from Pawar’s party contesting.
The two parties said the candidates’ list for Maharashtra will be announced in two or three days.
Some of the seats will see interesting newcomers. Actor Govinda is poised to contest against Union petroleum minister Ram Naik in Mumbai North, said a spokesperson.
Congress leader Murli Deora’s son Milind is one of the aspiring Congress candidates in Mumbai South.
March 22nd, 2004
BETWEEN YOU AND ME!
|Back to the commercial mainstream after a long while, critically acclaimed film director Aruna Raje says the time is ripe for a film like `Tum'. |
YOURS TRULY: Aruna Raje, the woman behind "Tum" shares a few candid moments in New Delhi. Photo: V. Sudershan.
`S-E-X.' Aruna Raje spells out the word that has lately taken the film industry by storm. "For the last few hundred years our society considered sex as sinful, pointlessly protecting man from nature. And that too without success; newspapers are cluttered with rape stories," declares Aruna, who has returned to wield the megaphone after a long sabbatical. Her latest film, `Tum' is touted as the story of a dangerous obsession.
And controversy, which seems to be this director's middle name, is haunting her yet again. "When I show an adult couple, some amount of physicality is imperative. The thing is we are not comfortable with our bodies. And you can't be selective with the maturity of viewers. They are mature enough to elect a Government but not to decide what to watch!" she exclaims.
"I was a tomboy and had completed reading Shakespeare back to back by the age of 13," she recounts. "It was during flights from Bangalore to Mumbai, where I was studying medicine that I came across producers offering me roles."
Born to do things differently, she was ready, but her parents discouraged her from entering a field where they felt girls were exploited. "As I was adamant, my friends suggested if I take training in acting then I won't be exploited. My parents, interestingly, agreed to the idea, not realising education doesn't make any difference. Anyway, I joined the Pune Film Institute, and as I was well informed and the Government had just started the policy to promote women in technical fields, the officials urged me to do a double diploma in direction and editing. With an inclination towards mind games and crosswords from childhood, I picked up editing very fast."
She married Vikas, and collaborated with him on some advertisement films and the urbane thriller `Shaque', followed by `Gehrayee' on superstitions. "Both were mature subjects. Still, a lot was written about the bedroom scenes filmed on Shabana and Vinod Khanna and later Padmini Kolhapure's nude scene in `Gehrayee'."
But soon divorce struck, and then she lost her daughter. "I didn't lose focus, I worked hard for my son, provided him the best of education in Switzerland." She made the critically acclaimed `Rehayee' during this period. "I didn't have money so I persuaded NFDC to support it. Then the media questioned if I was asking for sleeping rights for women in rural areas whose husbands have gone out to cities for jobs. Who am I to give them these rights? There are 20,000 divorce cases pending in Indian courts. When Plus offered me `Bhairavi', I was confused on how to tackle the subject, as I didn't know how a blind woman feels. I decided to remain blindfolded for three days. Soon, I started hearing some extra sounds. Like while filling the glass with water, the sound changes from when it is half filled to the point when it is full."
Life twirled again when her son struck out on his own. "For once I lost focus. I contemplated going to the Himalayas with no purpose left as such. Then I chanced to join Landmark Forum. It is based on ontology, the science of being. There I was able to shun the past and start afresh, and after making a couple of award-winning documentaries, `Tum' happened."
She feels that it is the right time for a film like `Tum'. "Friends have always said your films are ahead of their time. I think `Tum' is okay." Aruna denies that the Censor Board has objected to the length of steamy scenes. "The film was passed with two cuts and those are the flashback scenes where Karan Nath remembers the night he spent with Manisha." She refutes that she has played to the commercial tune of Venus, the producer of `Tum' or that her next project `Khajuraho' - renamed `Sex, Love and God' - is a similar step. "Tum' is indeed a commercial venture, but it has my stamp, and in `Khajuraho', I want to show sex as a way to reach God. I haven't found the producer yet. But can't I make a commercial film? To me, Manmohan Desai and Govinda type films are as valid as any other good film. I am planning a comedy again in my own way."
At last a valid smile surfaces on this riveting visage.
The Times of India
March 22nd, 2004
Hero No 1 makes formal entry in Cong
22 Mar 2004, 0413 hrs IST,TNN
NEW DELHI: "Hero No. 1" on Sunday became the Congress's biggest catch from the entertainment world. Govinda joined the party amidst firm indications that he might contest against petroleum minister Ram Naik in Mumbai north.
"I can contest," he told reporters after meeting party president Sonia Gandhi at her residence where he filled the party's membership form.
Being non-political and from the entertainment world, Govinda is not given the level of serious winnability against Naik. Partymen say he would basically keep Naik "engaged" or, at best, "give him a run for his money". This was how even Sunil Dutt was viewed initially, but he has continued to win from the megapolis.
Senior party leaders Kamal Nath and T Subbirami Reddy were present during the brief meeting Govinda had with Sonia.
On allegations that film stars were receiving money for joining political parties, Govinda rushed to the defence of his fraternity saying that these were "mere accusations being floated by interested groups".
"I don't think it is true," he maintained.
Was this then bye-bye to Bollywood? Govinda insisted that he would never severe his ties with filmdom.
However, the party was yet to announce Govinda's candidature. It kept the seat vacant while declaring the candidates for the remaining 25 seats to be contested by Congress as per an agreement reached with NCP.
The Times of India
March 23rd, 2004Kyunkii, Maa ne kaha tha...
23 Mar 2004, 0549 hrs IST,TNN
It’s not a Bollywood script but it sure sounds like one. If Hero No 1 did everything for Daddy and Raja Babu did it all for Maa, then Govinda
says he joined politics because his mother told him to do so.
‘‘It’s not a sudden decision,’’ clarifies the newest actor-turned-politician after being formally inducted into the Congress. ‘‘My association with politics began one and a half years back when I campaigned in Mumbai.’’ But why did he decide to join the Congress? ‘‘Because my mother was very close to Soniaji. I would meet Soniaji on my visits to the Capital. But it was my mother’s desire that I serve the country by joining hands with the Congress and I have just acted upon her decision.’’
So now, will it be an easy hop from Hero No 1 to Neta No...? ‘‘My mother would tell me if I wanted to be on top, I needed to have bhakti ki bhavana within myself. I’ve entered politics for the purpose of sewa and I’ll do that!’’
There is speculation that the seat in North Mumbai has been left vacant for him. ‘‘That is for my seniors to decide,’’ says Govinda
, currently ‘feeling good’ about his decision.
Is it this ‘Feel Good’ factor which is inspiring so many actors to turn to politics? Govinda
smiles, ‘‘It certainly gives you a feeling of power and makes you feel good.’’ Despite all those allegations about actors accepting money....‘‘I have not joined the Congress to add star value to the party. I have explained my reasons for getting into politics. As for the allegations about accepting money, there is no truth to the story because actors are a financially satisfied lot. They would never do such a thing!’’ he shoots back.
Lastly, how does he plan to juggle his time between politics and his films in Mumbai? ‘‘I cannot break away from films. I will give equal time to both my jobs!’’ His forthcoming films? ‘‘I am looking forward to my home-production Sukh. And my other films are Ek Haseena Ek Deewana and Hum Do Hamara Ek!’’
Apun Ka Choice
March 24th, 2004
|From Abhineta to Neta|
|24th Mar 2004 22.41 IST |
By ApunKaChoice Bureau
With the Lok Sabha elections around the corner, a number of actors and actresses are lending their support to different political parties.
Sample this! A number of Bollywood stars from Govinda , Celina Jaitley , Yukta Mookhey , Amisha Patel and Namrata Shirodkar to Hema Malini , Om Puri , Moushmi Chatterji and Suresh Oberoi have come to support one or the other party.
While Govinda, Celina, Om Puri have become regular members of Congress party, Hema Malini, Yukta Mookhey and Suresh Oberoi have joined the BJP. However, none of the stars will be contesting for any seat in the coming polls.
Here is what some stars had to say about their new role:
Yukta: "I haven’t switched over from acting to politics. But I would like to contribute in any which way to improve the condition of things, and I think BJP has been doing a pretty good job in last few years."
Celina: "I’m here as a symbol of youth to do something. I have joined Congress because it is more secular compared to other parties and let us not forget it was the first ruling party in the country."
Among the actors Govinda and Om Puri say that they have always believed in the ideology of Congress and that is why they decided to join the party.
The Times of India
March 25th, 2004
Govinda prepares for big battle against Naik
25 Mar 2004, 2327 hrs IST,S Balakrishnan,TNN
MUMBAI: Popular actor Govinda assumed a new avatar as a politician on Tuesday by beginning preparations for the big battle against petroleum minister and BJP heavyweight Ram Naik in the Mumbai North constituency.
Govinda has been in constant touch with the streetsmart city Congress chief, Gurudas Kamat, who is setting up a team of political managers to help the actor take on Naik, who is seeking re-election for a record fifth time.
Govinda told TNN on Tuesday that he opted for the Congress primarily for two reasons: his mother Nirmaladevi is a long-time supporter of the party and about a year-and-a-half ago Congress president Sonia Gandhi had invited him to help the party.
Asked about his controversial connections with the don of Virar, Bhai Thakur, the actor said as a resident of Virar he had only heard about him. But, he admitted that he knew Bhai Thakur’s brother and local MLA Hitendra Thakur, who was a Tada detenu, well.
“We studied together in the same school and took part in the puja at the Sai Baba temple,’’ he added. “Like many others in Virar, I know Hitendra Thakur socially. There is nothing wrong with that,’’ he noted. The general expectation is that Thakur and his aides will back Govinda to the hilt in the Vasai-Virar-Palghar belt.
Govinda refuses to be drawn into controversies. When asked if he agreed with the BJP’s claim that India was shining, he replied diplomatically, “All I can say is that if the Congress comes to power, India will shine more.’’ He skirts a question on the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya.
Even though the BJP is upset over the fielding of a popular actor against Naik, it is putting up a brave front. BJP sources said Govinda could not get his secretary Shashi Prabhu elected even to the BMC in the last elections from Borivli.
Asked about this, Govinda denied that he ever campaigned for Prabhu. “On the last day of Prabhu’s campaign I only made a brief appearance. This cannot be called campaigning by any stretch of imagination. But, what is interesting is that Prabhu lost by about 3,000 votes whereas in the past Congress nominees had lost by much higher margins,’’ he added.
The Congress has decided to ask Govinda to make a major poll issue of Naik’ s controversial allotment of petrol pumps to persons in the Sangh parivar and also the frequent increase in the price of petrol and diesel.
Kamat alleged that Naik had “misused’’ his position as petroleum minister to get IOC and other public sector oil companies to fund certain welfare projects in his constituency. But, the BJP has beenmaintaining that the oil companies were only fulfilling their social responsibilities.
Naik is a highly respected member of the Sangh parivar, so the RSS and its front organisations have accepted the challenge thrown in by the Congress. The re-election of Naik, who is well known in the constituency, is a matter of prestige for the Mumbai unit of the BJP. The Congress is also leaving no stone unturned to wrest the seat from Naik.
The Times of India
March 25th, 2004
Let Govinda prove himself: Sunil Dutt
25 Mar 2004, 1955 hrs IST,PTI
MUMBAI: Although the Bharatiya Janata Party has dubbed film star Govinda's nomination by Congress from the North Mumbai constituency as a sign of ‘lack of good candidates with the Congress', veteran Bollywood actor and four-time MP, Sunil Dutt, feels that Govinda should be given a chance to prove his worthiness.
"Unless a person is given a chance, how can he prove his worthiness," Dutt told newsmen in his reaction to Govinda's nomination by the Congress against five-time MP and Union Minister, Ram Naik, on Thursday.
Commenting on his socio-political career, Dutt said, "I started taking interest in serving people way back in 1962 when the country's jawans were fighting at the border. As per the suggestion by Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, I conducted shows for the jawans on the border."
Over the years Dutt has rendered enormous service, especially in the field of healthcare and hygiene through fund-raising. He also took out padyatras and expeditions to SAARC countries for regional peace.
"I had always suggested that there should be five per cent cut in defence budget and use that money for education and healthcare, " Dutt added.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/586999.cmsThe Times of India
March 28th, 2004
I want to bring poetry back to the lives of people here
28 Mar 2004, 0619 hrs IST,TNN
Congress candidate for South Kolkata, Nafisa Ali tells Smita Roy Chowdhury that the theft of Tagore's Nobel prize shows there's something wrong with the society in Bengal.
It's my Bengali blood and values that has made me the person I am today: I have grown up here and my schooling in La Martiniere for Girls has a huge contribution towards making me what I am. Though many of my teachers hated me for my guts, my principal Mrs Subaiya knew I was a spirited girl and she supported me always. I have many fond childhood memories of Kolkata, particularly of the city during the rains. We lived in a bungalow on Jhowtala Road and I used to get very excited when the streets got flooded. I also loved the street foods of Kolkata, particularly the puchkas. I used to swim in the Dhakuria Lake when I was very young. I have been swimming since I was six months old. Another Bengali trait I have is that I am very emotional. I loved animals from childhood. Whenever I used to find a dead animal or a bird, I used to bury it, and pray for it. I cried a lot when I saw animals in pain.
Though I haven't lived in Kolkata for the last 24 years, I know everything about life in this city: My family is here and I have kept coming back time and again. I know about everything that's happening here, the sentiments, the problems ailing the society and the sufferings of the people. In the last 27 years of the CPM rule, there has been a steady decline in opportunities for the common man. Industry has left, job opportunities have decreased. The common man has suffered due to the non-liberalisation and anti-globalisation stand of the Left Front government. The red movement is just not relevant to India.
My varied journey as a swimmer, beauty queen and social activist has made me a more mature and responsible human being: Also, I can say that it is my sense of direction and conviction that has helped me to excel in so many fields. The one thing that I have realised through my vast experiences in different fields, is that religion is only manmade and it divides people. To stay in power, the BJP has always used religion as a weapon. People must realise that the BJP is no custodian for Hinduism. Hinduism is a way of life and it's not under threat, so it doesn't need a custodian.
Mamata Banerjee has made her place in history, but whatever she is today is because of the Congress: It's Rajiv Gandhi who gave her the first chance and she, for whatever reason, lost focus. People gave her the mandate as a leader because she was like their didi, but there are many things she represents which are not right for the kind of Bengal and India that an average person wants.
I don't want to bully anyone into voting for me: People must realise that the Congress is a progressive and secular national party. It is the party that gave us our Independence. So many Congress leaders have contributed to our freedom struggle. It has a proven track record of 180 years and it is ingrained in the history of our country.
If I win from South Kolkata, I will join the NGO forums and help them progress: I will also build more computer centres for the education of the youth. I want Kolkata to be an IT city, at par, if not better, with Hyderabad. I will join hands with secular-minded people.
I am not going to make my struggle for AIDS an issue for campaigning: But, yes, I have really made some difference to the lives of AIDS patients in the country. I have not only worked towards AIDS awareness, I have been successful in changing the mindset of politicians. I have managed to convince the finance minister to introduce the Anti Retro Viral drug for one lakh people in India from April 1. This is a drug which is used in the West and can help an AIDS patient live for even 25 years. At my AIDS hospital in Delhi, I have majorly dealt with the issue of ostracization also, since this is the biggest problem faced by the patients. I have plans to open an AIDS hospital in Kolkata too.
It's the time when people with a clear vision should come forward and join politics: It doesn't matter whether they are stars or professional politicians. If Govinda comes to power he will definitely work for his constituency, because he knows and understands the problems and sentiments of his area. He won't be greedy for material wealth and that's very necessary.
We Bengalis are such a culturally rich people, we need poetry in our lives: But that poetry is missing from our lives. The fact that the Nobel prize got stolen is an indication that there is something seriously wrong with our society here.
The Times of India
March 28th, 2004
Naik ignored rail commuters: Govinda
28 Mar 2004, 0307 hrs IST,S Balakrishnan,TNN
MUMBAI: He was one actor who was least interested in politics or any social cause. So it was something of a surprise when the Congress decided to field actor Govinda for the April 26 Lok Sabha election against BJP heavy weight and petroleum minister Ram Naik in Mumbai north constituency.
Govinda did tentatively campaign for the Congress during the Punjab assembly elections, but he forgot all about it the moment he returned to Mumbai.
Congressmen themselves are unsure if he will be able to defeat Naik. But the tremendous response which he received on his first visit to Virar on Friday is worrying BJP rank and file.
TNN spoke to Govinda (40), who still retains his boy-next-door character, in his very middle-class looking flat at Juhu about his foray into politics and other topics.
Why did you join the Congress and not the BJP or any other party?
My mother Nirmaladevi, who was a classical singer, was always for the Congress. Since she was a major influence in my life, it was but natural for me to join the Congress. Apart from that, I believe in secularism and taking all communities along with me.
But, what made you take on a heavyweight like Naik? Don't you think that you are being used by the Congress, which could not find a suitable candidate, to challenge a seemingly invincible Naik?
Honestly, it was the plight of lakhs of people travelling in the most inhuman conditions in Mumbai's local trains which prompted me to take on Naik. As a resident of Virar, I have travelled in these trains. I was hoping after Naik became the minister of state for railways he would have done something for the commuters. When I found he has not done anything, I decided to step in.
Your critics say you are entering politics since your film career has almost come to an end.
I have acted in over 125 films and many of them were superhits. The fact is that I stopped signing films two years ago. More than a year ago, Congress president Sonia Gandhi sounded me out about a career in politics. Now with the elections round the corner, the Congress sounded me out again. I held consultations with senior leaders and only after that did I agree to contest.
The Times of India
March 28th, 2004
The Great Indian Circus
28 Mar 2004, 0607 hrs IST,TNN
It ain't politics anymore. With new Bollywoodians — has-been heroes, side actors, wannabe stars, comedians, aging starlets — joining the political bandwagon every day, E-2004 has truly been transformed into a Maha-Mela. Of course, our Bolly-ticians might cite the example of the US Governator as the most recent political fairy tale. But do they know what Arnie (Arnold Schwarzenneger) had to say when quizzed about why he joined politics. If I can sell tickets for Red Sonja, I can sell anything! And do they know that Red Sonja is Arnie's biggest bloomer.
We asked our wannabe netas why they shifted gears — from reel tamasha to real tamasha. And here's what they had to say. Celina Jaitley joined the Congress because she wanted to solve India's endemic problems — bad roads, poverty, unemployment — and had grown up reading about the "revolution in the electronics and telecom industries under Indira and Rajiv Gandhi." Of course, she's still in kindergarten, when it comes to politics, she confesses.
Nafisa Ali wants to contest against Mamata Banerjee in order to revive the glory of Amar Shonar Bangla, while Dharmendra says he's the son of a poor farmer and would like to do something for all those poor farmers and their sons out there. Moushumi Chatterjee hopped onto the Congress plank because father-in-law Hemant Kumar and Chacha Nehru were friends. Manoj Kumar, however, claims to himself have a 'relationship' with Atalji and Advaniji and ascribes his newfound political aspirations to this old bond. For Bhappi da, Congress it had to be because 'papa' was a great pal of former West Bengal CM BC Roy.
And for Govinda, because 'Mummy' was a good friend of Indiraji.
Somewhere down the line, is the serious business of politics being reduced to sloppy showbiz? Something akin to a C-grade movie that draws curious glances because the posters are titillating. But draws empty houses because the story has no Dum. And no, here we are just not talking about the allegations of 'paid' poll campaigners and 'palm-greased' carnival managers!
March 29th, 2004
Where will VIRGIN VOTES go?
|They have been thrilled only by college elections so far. Facing the real thing gives them gooseflesh. M. KRISHNAN talks to first time voters. |
GOVINDA'S POLITICAL ambitions or Dharmendra - Hema Malini's plunge into the BJP may not exactly excite the `virgin voters', but they are all charged up about casting their votes for the first time. Hooked up in a new, glitzy world of fashion and computers, Generation X may not be very politically inclined, as many have no plans to make their votes rebellious. The fun and excitement of being in a polling booth, casting the first vote of their lives- its just another experience that they want to cherish. But many of them have not even made up their minds about who will get their votes. It is only the act of voting which thrills them. The responsibility that the vote bestows on them is often not realised.
Fresh voters are already experiencing the hassles of being part of the great election in the Indian sub-continent. These are days when these fresh voters are running around hard to get their voter's id card. "Gosh, was that my picture?" Bhavana , a first year BDS student can't believe her ghost-like face on the card. Karthik is so confused because it's not his address that's printed on the card. Rahul has made himself a famous footballer, his name having beed spelt `Raul' on the card. Brahmish is at a loss because he has taken his dad's name on the card. As for his dad's name, Brahmish has assumed his grand father's post. Oops, the `blunders' continue.
These college freshers are all first time voters in Kerala. From the `jail-walls' of plus two schools, freedom has just come to them at large. "Elections are fun. We had our college elections just days back. The wild ways of campaigning can actually trigger laugh-riots," remarks Nizliyah, a first year Law student. Why not when there are banners and hoardings going around the campus like, `Ningalillathe enikkenthaaghosham?', `Satisfaction to the last vote' and so on.
Back to `big' elections. These new voters don't have many priorities. "It's only when the rest of the family is so inclined to a particular party that the new voter is influenced. Otherwise they are like free birds," says Reneesh, Vice-Chairman of the M. G. University Student's Union, who feels that first-time voters don't much care for the end result.
However, campus politics definitely take its effect on first time voters. A voter who strictly `panel-votes' for an SFI panel or a KSU panel shows his clear inclination for the respective parties. "They should simply be following that trend when it comes to Lok Sabha elections too," feels Reneesh.
It's glamour next, that attracts first-time voters and youth. They need icons. Icons in the genre of the late leaders Rajiv Gandhi or Madhav Rao Scindia. Such a system is almost absent in Kerala politics. "The only name I can think of is perhaps that of K. B. Ganesh Kumar's. Not because he has a lot of glamour but for his good work with the KSRTC," says Anuroop Joseph, a first time voter and a first year MBBS student. "Rahul and Priyanka are striking personalities. But since Congress in the State is submerged in a lot of group plays, the party may take the back seat in the forthcoming elections here," he says.
"My first vote shall be for that candidate who spells `democracy', better". Praveen elaborates: Recently he `enlightened' a politician while on a train and made him believe that it ought to be spelled `d-e-m-o-c-r-a-z-y'. "By the end of the journey, he must have found out the real spelling, `coz he gave me a wild snarl," He said.
Eighteen they say is the `latest best' among teen-ages. With already a license to drive and an electoral card in the wallet, the indelible ink marked hand and voting machines can actually turn our boys and girls into men and women! Even the thought of the D-day makes them ecstatic.
"To put in his first vote, my brother, who was ill, was taken to the polling booth in an ambulance. I hope I don't follow in his footsteps," remarks Parvathy, a first year Commerce student at Thevara College. But like many other youths of her age, Parvathy too is ignorant of candidates contesting in her own constituency.
For many last minute decisions are taken. "I will certainly make my choice before the polling day is here," says Meenakshi, a first time voter and MBBS student.
In a month's time from now, the first time voters in the city will make it to the polling boothsThe ad on Channel V calling for the new voter and the controversy bitten `India Shining' are all attracting these teenagers.
The Asian News
March 29th, 2004
Slapstick at its worst29/ 3/2004
I'm not a filmmaker but if I was I'm sure I could do a better job than director Vimal Kumar on 'Suno Sasurji.'
There is nothing much good to say about this film. Shoddy script and raunchy dance tracks, leaves you nowhere.
'Suno Sasurji' looks like a poor David Dhawan version of slapstick comedy at its worst kind.
The story revolves around two conmen Kader Khan and his brother-in-law Asrani who exploit and dupe people by taking their money and promising to put it into a high interest rate account.
However, their scheme is unravelled by Aftab Shivdasani who turns up demanding cash his grandfather lent to Kader.
Kader Khan throws him out of the house.
Vowing to get get revenge, Aftab woos Kader Khan's daughter played by Amisha Patel.
Kader is obviously opposed to the match and attempts to break them up by sabotaging their dates. His antics are supposed to be funny but I wasn't laughing along with everyone else in the audience.
Suno Sasurji is just another predictable film that fumbles to create any impact.
Kumar has goofed up with the subject. He has shamelessly copied the David Dhawan style and failed.
This film's story line has been done many times before, usually with better effect.
Shivdasani's style and dress apes that of Govinda, but with a face that moves from stern to frown, he is no king of comedy.
Patel is wasted there to only to provide a skin show during her raunchy routines.
Definitely one to skip.
March 30th, 2004
BJP fields star for Charminar contest
|G.S. RADHAKRISHNA |
|Vijayashanti in Mumbai. (PTI) |
Hyderabad, March 29: The battle line has been drawn in Hyderabad. On one side is Assaduddin Owaisi, the son of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief Sultan Salauddin Owaisi whose name has been synonymous with Charminar City in Parliament for over 20 years.
And taking on Owaisi Junior is BJP candidate Vijayashanti, the Telugu actor whose superstar value is compared to that of Amitabh Bachchan.
The BJP seems keen to dislodge the MIM from its citadel — poll arithmetic apart, an edge comes to the contest as the sitting MP, Owaisi Senior, had walloped BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu by over a lakh votes in the 1996 polls. Moreover, the party has been making a push in the constituency and clashes between BJP and MIM supporters have often led to flare-ups.
But the MIM mocked the Andhra allies — the BJP and the Telugu Desam Party, thanking them for handing the seat on a platter by fielding a novice like Vijayashanti.
“Vijay bhi hamara hoga aur logon ko shanti bhi milegi (Victory will be ours and peace will reign in the constituency),” said the elder Owaisi — who is reverently called the Salar (sardar or tiger) of Hyderabad — after announcing that he is abdicating in favour of his son.
Both Vijayashanti and Assaduddin are making their debut in general elections, but the MIM heir apparent has two terms in the Assembly from the Charminar seat — part of the Hyderabad constituency — to show for electoral experience.
The actor can, perhaps, draw inspiration from Bollywood star Govinda (Congress), who is taking on five-time MP from Mumbai North, Ram Naik (BJP).
Announcing Vijayashanti’s candidature, state BJP president . Indrasena Reddy said Venkaiah Naidu will accompany her when she files her nomination papers in Hyderabad on March 31 and also address a meeting.
The actor’s nomination had been kept under wraps till now as she had announced she would not contest from Telengana — Hyderabad falls within the region — after the Telengana Rashtra Samiti raised a row about her Telengana origin.
The controversy broke after she starred in the 2002 box office blockbuster Osai Ramulamma as a Telengana woman — based on a real-life character — who led the agitation against liquor in the state. Also, the BJP was holding her back as a dark horse to contest from Bellary in Karnataka if Congress president Sonia Gandhi had opted for it as a second seat.
Apun Ka Choice
March 30th, 2004
|I’m a people’s person: Rani|
|30th Mar 2004 20.16 IST |
By ApunKaChoice Bureau
Rani Mukherjee is not a high-headed actress with loads of attitude. Rather, the comely belle is a people’s person who likes to hob-nob with everyone be it a cameraman or an assistant on the shooting sets.
Seeing Rani on the sets of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘ Black ’ (also starring Amitabh Bachchan ), one can hardly imagine that she is among the most sought-after actresses in tinsel town.
The comfort and mien with which she mingles with the crew is remarkable. She addresses the film’s cameraman Ravi Chandran as Ravi bhai and often breaks into a teasing banter for the spot boy (a young lad dressed in shorts) who is responsible for serving tea.
“That’s the way I am – A people’s person. I like to talk to several people, get to know about their lives, their dreams and ambitions. It gives me an insight into many lives,” says the actress.
Meanwhile, when member of Govinda’s production unit drops in on the sets, Rani is full of concern about the actor’s health.
“This is the way I am. I can’t be reserved just because that’s what’s expected of me. I like to reach out to people, ask about their lives, inquire into their well-being. Is that wrong?” asks Rani.
“I believe that an actor has to be a people’s person. If I just come, sit here brooding, do my work and go back home, life would be too drab. Mingling around with people adds colors to life…” before Rani could finish the sentence, she spots Anil Kapoor’s daughter Sonam (working as assistant for ‘Black’). Without a moments delay Rani heads forth for another yapping session with Sonam. Well, she surely is a people’s person.
April 1st, 2004
4-, 2004 - 01: 0
Nominations end for first phase of Lok Sabha polls
New Delhi:Union Ministers Nitish Kumar, Ram Naik, Bhavanaben Chikhaliya and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda were among a large number of candidates who filed their nomination today as the process ended for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections to 141 seats on April 20 and began for the third phase scheduled for April 26.
Kumar, Railway Minister and senior Janata Dal (U) leader, filed his papers from two constituencies Barh and Nalanda in Bihar, ending speculation about his joining the fray in more than one constituency. Kumar filed his nomination for Nalanda, considered a safer seat than Barh, after his party chief George Fernandes shifted from there to Muzaffarpur.
Petroleum Minister Ram Naik jumped into the fray from Mumbai North, which he has represented five times, to take on Bollywood star Govinda who is making his electoral debut.
In Karnataka, former prime minister Deve Gowda filed his nomination papers for Kanakapura constituency in Bangalore rural, setting at rest speculation that he may switch to his home constituency Hassan. He is pitted against BJP's senior state leader Ramachandra Gowda and TV journalist Tejaswini Ramesh, contesting for Congress.
Union Minister of State for Tourism Bhavanaben Chikhaliya filed her papers from Junagadh, which she has represented four times since 1991, while Tushar Chaudhary, son of former PCC chief and Leader of the Opposition in state assembly, Amarsinh Chaudhary filed his nomination for Mandvi reserved seat.
Chief Minister S M Krishna filed his nomination for Chamarajpet assembly constituency, which along with 119 other seats in Karnataka goes to polls on April 20.
April 1st, 2004
Showdown formally begins in UP, Maharashtra
Poll notification for third phase issued
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 31
The stage is set for the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections spread over Uttar Pradesh and remaining constituencies in Maharashtra and Bihar and eight other states and the culminating stage of hustings to the Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa on April 26 as the statutory notifications were promulgated today.
The President sent out the notification under Sub-Section (2) of section 14 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, calling upon the voters of 137 Parliamentary constituencies, spread over 11 states and Union Territories, to elect their representatives in the April 26 polling, to be held from 7 am to 5 pm.
The respective Governors issued notifications for the second phase of Assembly poll to elect a total of 311 MLAs in the three Houses: Andhra Pradesh (147 seats in the 294-member House), Karnataka (104 of 224) and Orissa (70 of 147).
Filing of nominations for all parliamentary seats under phase three began today and will go on till April 7, followed by scrutiny of the papers on April 8 and withdrawal of candidature will be allowed for the next two days, ie until April 10.
Among the candidates seeking a passage to the 14th Lok Sabha in the third of the five-phase showdown in the world’s largest democracy will be Congress President Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh) and her son Rahul Gandhi (Amethi, Uttar Pradesh), Lok Jan Shakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan (Hajipur, Bihar), Defence Minister George Fernandes ( Muzaffarpur, Bihar), Petroleum Minister Ram Naik (Mumbai North, Maharashtra), film star Govinda (Mumbai North) and NCP leader Sharad Pawar (Baramati, Maharashtra).
Following are the Lok Sabha constituencies going to polls in the third phase:
Uttar Pradesh: Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh, Amethi, Sultanpur, Akbarpur, Faizabad, Bara Banki, Kaiserganj, Bahraich, Balrampur, Gonda, Basti, Domariaganj, Khalilabad, Bansgaon, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Padrauna, Deoria, Salempur, Ballia, Ghosi, Azamgarh, Lalganj, Machhlishahr, Jaunpur, Saidpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Robertsganj and Mirzapur;
Maharashtra: Rajapur, Ratnagiri, Kolaba, Mumbai South, Mumbai South Central, Mumbai North Central, Mumbai North East, Mumbai North-West, Mumbai North, Thane, Dahanu, Nashik, Malegaon, Jalna, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Kopargaon, Khed, Pune, Baramati, Satara, Karad, Ichalkaranji and Kolhapur;
Orissa: Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Bhubaneswar and Aska:
Jharkhand: Rajmahal, Dumka, Godda, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Singhbhum, Khunti and Lohardaga.
Bihar: Bagaha, Bettiah, Motihari, Gopalganj, Siwan, Maharajganj, Chapra, Hajipur, Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Madhubani, Jhanjharpur, Darbhanga, Rosera and Samastipur;
Andhra Pradesh: Kakinada, Rajahmundry, Amalapuram, Narasapur, Eluru, Machilipatnam, Vijayawada, Tenali, Guntur, Bapatla, Narasaraopet, Ongole, Nellore, Tirupathi, Chittoor, Rajampet, Cuddapah, Hindupur, Anantapur, Kurnool and Nandyal;
Assam: Karimganj, Silchar, autonomous district, Nowgong, Kaliabor, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur.
April 1st, 2004
Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 01:22 GMT 02:22 UK
Bollywood and politics: Marriage or an affair?By Soutik Biswas
BBC News Online correspondent in Delhi
Her father was an aeronautical engineer, her siblings are doctors, and she studied political science at a northern Indian university.
But with her comely looks Poonam Dhillon opted for a career in Bollywood, the world's most prolific film industry which cranks out some 1,000 movies a year from the western Indian city of Bombay, also known as Mumbai.
Nine years and some 90 films later, Dhillon quit films, settled into domesticity, and plunged into politics soon after. She joined the India's main opposition Congress party and stayed, as she says, "pretty inactive" for two years.
This year, she joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Now she vows to devote more time and attention to politics and says her political science background will come of use.
Dhillon is one of the nearly two dozen film stars who have decided to join political parties ahead of the general elections in India.
They are an unlikely collection of retired stars, out-of-work actors, and some former beauty queens-turned struggling performers.
Subbirami Reddy, a Congress party parliamentarian and film producer who claims to have signed up 14 film stars to his party, says actors are more politically conscious today.
"Previously, film stars did not read anything or show interest in politics. Today, they are educated and understand politics," says Mr Reddy.
It makes sense then, he says candidly, for parties to approach them because "every star has a following and can bring in the crowds".
That is possibly the reason that most of the stars are going to campaign in the elections, but not go as far as standing as candidates.
One exception is Govinda, a popular comic hero, who is contesting against a powerful federal minister in a Bombay constituency.
These days, the star is hopping on and off the crowded Bombay trains to mingle with passengers and whip up support. There he recounts his own rags to riches story when he would travel to work in a train "whistling Hindi songs".
When the journey ends, his understanding of the problems of the people is disarmingly simple. "Nothing has changed in the train. People are same, problems are same," says Govinda.
Politics as spectacle
In an election bereft of substantive issues rousing the voters or polarising the parties, Bollywood stars are expected to draw crowds and generate some excitement.
"This is all about reducing politics to a spectacle. This election is like a plot-less, message-less political movie which needs extras (politicians) to liven up the proceedings," sociologist Shiv Vishwanathan told BBC News Online.
Many of the stars who have joined parties seem to be ignorant about important events in Indian history, or even their party's political allies.
Veteran actor Suresh Oberoi, who has joined the BJP, was asked by a reporter why December 6, 1992 (the day a mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya was torn down on that day by Hindu nationalists triggering off the worst bout of communal rioting in India since Independence) was an important date.
"Why is it important?" Mr Oberoi wondered.
'Couldn't handle it
Bollywood's tryst with politics has been chequered so far.
STARS CAMPAIGNINGJayaprada (Samajwadi Party)
Manoj Kumar (BJP)
Zeenat Aman (Congress)
Celina Jaitley (Congress)
Namrata Shirodkar (Congress)
Sharad Kapoor (Congress)
Moushumi Chatterjee (Congress)
Yukhta Mookhey (BJP)
Hema Malini (BJP)
Sudha Chandran (BJP)
Suresh Oberoi (BJP)
Poonam Dhillon (BJP)
Om Puri (Congress)
In the mid 1980's, Bollywood's biggest star Amitabh Bachchan fought the elections on a Congress party ticket from his northern hometown of Allahabad. He won convincingly. He quit midway through his term in the parliament after realising that "that politics wasn't about emotion, it was a much bigger game and I possibly couldn't handle it".
Today there are just a handful of Bollywood stars-turned elected politicians, including two federal ministers, who belong to the BJP. This is a far cry from southern India, which has its own thriving film industry. Here the lines between politics and cinema have been traditionally blurred.
Southern cinema, particularly in Tamil Nadu, has been freely used as an instrument for propaganda for a party or caste-based ideology. The present chief minister of the state, J Jayalalitha, was once a star actress and her mentor MG Ramachandran, who also ruled the state, was a stage actor turned movie star.
When Mr Ramachandran died, two million people turned out for his funereal. Former chief minister M Karunanidhi was a film scriptwriter. Actor NT Rama Rao ruled over the Andhra Pradesh state for a long time.
"In the south, cinema is entertainment and a political movement. In fact, the political movement takes precedence. A Bollywood star joining politics is more of a spectacle around a charismatic personality. He or she is not a catalyst of change," says Shiv Vishwanathan.
'Fading novelty value'
Poonam Dhillon disagrees. "I know the media perception of filmstars in politics is a bit negative because of the hordes of actors joining parties," Dhillion told BBC News Online.
"But a star can motivate people, highlight a cause, raise funds for a project easily because people love us. We can be of so much good use," she says.
Analysts like Mr Vishwanathan have no doubt that the majority of these stars will vanish "into thin air" once the elections are over. "They will not make any difference to how the people vote. Their novelty will fade fast. The voters' attention span is also very small these days," he says.
Even the stars possibly are aware of that. Poonam Dhillon, for example, says she will continue to do television and theatre even as she pursues a political career. "I will keep time off every month to pursue politics long term. I am not here for short-term gains," she says.
History, however, suggests otherwise.
April 2nd, 2004
Hero's bid to be politician No. 1
|Govinda has begun his political `yatra'by travelling second class on the local train to Virar. This popular `Virar ka Chokra' turned film star has the common man touch. But whether he can translate this into votes to defeat formidable rival and BJP minister Ram Naik is the question, says V. GANGADHAR. |
V for victory is what this star is hoping for.
THE POPULAR Janmashtami song "Govinda aaala re... " was sung by thousands of commuters on the morning of March 27, as a chubby, middle-aged man stood in the queue at Borivili station and bought a second class ticket for the 7.10 a.m. Virar local. His reception at the station and inside the compartment was ecstatic and the excitement continued at Virar where huge crowds had assembled.
The special commuter, clad in sober white, was 41-year old Govind Arun Ahuja, known to millions of film fans as Govinda, often called `Virar ka Chokra' or `Chi Chi'. Govinda, the hero of 125 films, was not shooting for a new film. Chosen by the Congress party to oppose BJP stalwart, Petroleum Minister and five-time winner, Ram Naik, in the forthcoming Lok Sabna elections, Govinda had just started his political `yatra'.
Once at Virar, he visited the famous Sai Baba temple and offered prayers. Govinda, whose early days were spent at Virar's Sheikh Chawl at Phulpada Road (now known as Govinda Gully) was in familiar territory.
Shopkeepers, workers and every one on the street waved to him and wished him luck. Despite money and fame and the shift to Juhu, Govinda had not forgotten his roots. Every February 12, he returned to Virar to stage a `Film Star' night and do puja at the Sai Baba temple.
The train journey to Virar was in the midst of old friends like 73-year old Sadhu Govind Ram who had visited the Govinda home some 15 years ago! Unlike another actor, Dharmendra, who was supposed to capture the `Jat' votes for the BJP, Govinda has no fixed vote bank. His assets are his personal popularity and the common man touch.
In simple words, he told one why he joined politics. ``My mother, the `thumri' singer, Nirmala Devi had always backed the Congress. Sonia Gandhi invited me to join the party and I was always present at her meetings in the city.''
Nirmala Devi was a highly respected figure in Virar and the locals appreciated how she struggled to bring up the two sons, Kirti (a film producer) and Govinda.
Govinda's Bollywood co-stars, producers and directors continue to love him despite his habit of reporting late at the sets. His dancing invited comparisons with John Travolta and Elvis Presley and his films offered entertainment to the lower middle classes.
For a film star, he has a `clean' personal record and Sonia Gandhi was keen to have him in the party. And the Virar boy filed his nomination papers in the presence of State Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
The Mumbai (North) election battle will not be easy for Govinda. Ram Naik is a formidable opponent who is trying for a double hat-trick in the Lok Sabha polls. Easily accessible, he has done sterling work for the suburban train commuters and runs an efficient party organisation. The only black mark on his record is the recent `petrol pump' scandal in the Ministry of Petroleum.
Unfazed at the choice of Govinda as his opponent, Naik was all confidence. ``In politics, I am the Hero No 1,'' he quipped.
Both candidates affirmed they would not attack each other on a personal level and the campaign promised to be a clean one. ``I will not attack the `Feel Good' strategy of the BJP,'' said Govinda. ``I will tell the people they will feel better under the Congress rule.''
Ram Naik, however, had concentrated more on Borivili and not so much on the problems of Vasai-Virar.
``Chi-Chi has a better understanding of our local problems,'' pointed out Ganesh Ram, a local auto driver. ``He is humble. We expect more attention from him. Naik is a big leader, he has no time for our local problems,'' complained a housewife.
The local problems are, of course, flourishing illegal construction and the corruption involved, chaotic traffic in the absence of an over-bridge between Virar (W) and East, and perennial water shortage.
Explained Govinda, ``Years of living in Virar made me familiar with these problems. I will be travelling by train, bus and auto to garner public support through door-to-door campaigning.''
Govinda also expected support from old school chum and friend, Hitendra Thakur, the local `don' and former TADA detenu who is also the local MLA and wields considerable influence.
Govinda was hesitant to abandon his screen image. ``After all, people have identified me with a particular type of image and why should I give it up?'' he argued. ``But I am a common man, and people can identity themselves with me.''
The Mumbai (North) Lok Sabha election did have some filmy touches — a film star with a `fond mother' image hovering around him, a `don' in action and a political heavyweight as an opponent. But the real life political drama will be more interesting than any screen version. Can `Chi Chi' make it, enabling the `Virar ka Chokra' to set his sights on Delhi?
The Times of India
April 3rd, 2004
The twain shall meet!
3 Apr 2004, 0145 hrs IST,TNN
Collaboration and not confrontation. That’s the new buzzword for India-Pakistan ties these days, be it along diplomatic corridors or filmi bylanes.
So, Bollywood’s interest in Pakistan has leap-frogged from the cricket stadium and the piracy market to a new arena : Lahore’s film industry, Lollywood. Movie-makers from both industries are keen to join hands for a venture.
‘‘Yes, we are looking at such an option, but diplomatic roadblocks need to be sorted out first,’’ says director David Dhawan. The man who made Govinda Hero No 1 was in Lahore for the ODI matches and,while there, he met prominent members of the film industry. Dhawan’s tryst in Lahore also included a meeting with Rahat Ali Khan, the nephew of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the voice of the soulful Mann Ki Lagan number in Pooja Bhatt’s Paap.
Rahat Ali Khan singing for a Hindi movie was ‘‘talent sourcing’’ according to top Pakistani producer Sajjad Gul. ‘‘We are looking at a joint venture in the true meaning of the term. There will be a detailed exchange of information before we embark on any project. Of course, before this, we need the green signal from both governments.’’ Though Gul has approached the powers-that-be in Pakistan, he concedes that ‘‘Securing permission will take time even though things sound rosy right now. But if people can watch cricket, then why can’t they watch an Indo-Pak movie venture?’’
Between the two industries, Bollywood, with ample resources is definitely better placed, though Lollywood’s piracy is dealing it a heavy blow. ‘‘The market for Bollywood’s audio and video piracy is around Rs 200 crore,’’ informs Gul. And it is because of this piracy, despite Indian films being banned in Pakistan, that Lollywood is struggling. Will the legitimate entry of Indian films into Pakistan prove to be the death knell for Lollywood? Gul feels otherwise.
Apun Ka Choice
April 5th, 2004
|Govinda files nomination as Congress candidate|
|05th Apr 2004 22.34 IST |
By ApunKaChoice Bureau
Govinda filed his nomination papers from the northwest Mumbai Lok Sabha constituency in Mumbai today.
The Bollywood star is contesting on a Congress ticket, and is pitted against BJP heavyweight and Petroleum Minister Ram Naik, who has represented the constituency five times.
Virar, where Govinda lives, falls within the LS constituency. Though the actor had been actively campaigning for the Congress over the past few years, he joined the party formally only last month.
The Times of India
April 7th, 2004
The big fight is on the small screen
7 Apr 2004, 0358 hrs IST,TNN
Come elections and a host of road shows, yatras, bhashans and rallies vie for the voter's limited attention spans. But the more pitched battle, many would say, is fought on TV screens. Surveys, debates, talk shows and discussions are all designed to help you decide whom you should vote for. But in this electronic battlefield, do people miss the huge rallies, pomp and paegentry of elections in the past? Remember Laloo's antics, or NTR's grand roadshows? Well, according to a survey conducted by AT, the answer, is a resounding 'No'. The janata is quite happy surfing channels to get an update on what's happening on the election front.
Some 97 per cent of the people polled, had not attended a single such gathering. The reasons, predictably, varied from "lack of time and convenience" to "lack of interest." The remaining three per cent who had attended did so by default or plain curiosity.
A unique feature of Election 2004, is the number of celebrities roped in for campaigning. Do they make a difference? Not really. As many as 99 per cent of people claimed that getting a celebrity to woo voters wouldn't do the trick for them. Hetal Choksi, a doctor, believes that gimmicks work with the uneducated class. He says, "I would attend if veteran leaders come, strictly because they would have some message to give, a vision to share, problems to explain."
Tough luck Smriti Irani, Govinda and Co! At aleast among the urbanities, it appears issues are more important than mere rhetorics and glamorous faces.
All respondents stated that they would rather attend a rally where the politician addressed their problems. Nevertheless the average voter, it appears, is still disinterested in the "game."
Pratiksha Gohel, 18 and a first-time voter says, "They just put up an image for the public. They will go back to their old ways soon as they have bagged their seat."
In other words, why bother to keep track of the campaign trail when there's television? Not surprisingly, with the onslaught of latest technology, voters would rather watch the moves on television. Nobody quite misses the action, noise and colour of political rallies on the move. Narendra Jhala, 60, says, "Anyway, these shows are nothing but noise and chaos. Besides heavy security arrangements, they disturb civic life as well."
So from meeting your candidate or watching him hog the screen, people certainly seem to have chosen how they want to be helped in making their choice.
April 7th, 2004
I am ready to contest against Vajpayee: Malika
LUCKNOW, APRIL 6. Actress Malika Sherawat today stated that she would not hesitate to contest against the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee from Lucknow, if given a ticket for the Lok Sabha elections.
``I am ready to take on Mr Vajpayee in Lucknow and will certainly win the election,'' claimed Malika, the latest sensation to rock the Bollywood bandwagon, told mediapersons here.
Claiming that several political parties had approached her to campaign for them in the coming Lok Sabha elections, she said, ``I have rejected all such offers as I am concerned about giving more attention to my career.''
Malika also said she would not hesitate to contest against the Prime Minister and was confident of ``all-out support'' from the youth.
The Rohtak girl, who shot to limelight with her daring scenes in her debut film `Khwahish', said she saw no controversy in Bollywood artistes joining the politics. ``Politics is also a part of our life. How can anyone deprive us of our democratic rights,'' she asked.
Renowned film director Mahesh Bhatt, who was here along with Malika in connection with the promotion of their new release `Murder', also supported the Bollywood artistes joining active politics.
Showering praise on famous Bollywood actor Govinda, contesting the Lok Sabha election on the Congress ticket from Mumbai North, Mr Bhatt said, ``I am sure he can serve the people better than any one else because he is attached to the ground realities of the society.''
April 8th, 2004
Mayawati declares assets
NEW DELHI, APRIL 7. The affidavits of assets filed by the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, and the BSP chief, Mayawati, have an interesting tale to tell.
According to Ms. Mayawati's affidavit submitted on Monday, she has Rs. 9.78 crores deposited in various banks and keeps Rs. 1.5 lakhs in hand. She also owns jewellery worth Rs. 30.94 lakhs. The diamond-studded jewellery gifted to her during one of her birthdays by party activists had earlier been under investigation.
She owns four houses estimated at Rs. 1.25 crores in Delhi's Inderpuri area.
The Congress president neither owns a car nor a house in India. She does have an ancestral home estimated at Rs. 12.45 lakhs in Italy.
According to Ms. Gandhi's affidavit submitted yesterday, she has deposits amounting to Rs. 26.2 lakhs in UCO Bank and Rs. 25,000 in hand. Besides this, she also has RBI bonds worth Rs. 10.53 lakhs and other policies worth Rs. 13.29 lakhs. She has invested Rs. 1.29 lakhs in the national savings certificate. Her gold and silver jewellery is valued at Rs. 14.71 lakhs and she owns two pieces of land in Delhi and Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh) worth Rs. 2.19 lakhs.Ms. Gandhi has given Rs. 5 lakhs to her daughter and party's star campaigner, Priyanka Vadra, as loan, the affidavit said.
Rahul Gandhi, who is contesting from the Amethi Lok Sabha seat, has about Rs. 11 lakhs in Indian banks, nearly £30,000 and $19,000 in banks abroad, besides investments of over Rs. 7 lakhs. According to an affidavit submitted by Mr. Rahul, he also owns a farm house at Mehrauli in Delhi worth Rs. 9.8 lakhs.
He has Rs. 10.11 lakhs in UCO bank and Rs. 99,000 in Citibank in New Delhi, according to the affidavit. He has £27,700 at Westminster Bank in England besides three other foreign accounts having $18,600, $600 and £2,700, the affidavit says. Mr. Rahul has invested about Rs. 3.9 lakhs in shares besides having jewellery estimated at Rs. 1.25 lakhs and LIC and other saving certificates worth Rs. 3.80 lakhs.
Surpassing even Govinda in terms of personal wealth, two-time MP, Sunil Dutt, who is contesting against the Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member, Sanjay Nirupam, from north-west Mumbai, is the richest of all contesting Lok Sabha candidates from Mumbai, with assets estimated at over Rs. 22 crores.
The Maharashtra Minister, Eknath Gaekwad, who is pitted against the Lok Sabha Speaker, Manohar Joshi, in the north-central Mumbai Lok Sabha seat, continues to remain `poor' among the entire lot with assets estimated at Rs. 19 lakhs.
Mr. Dutt also possesses immovable property to the tune of Rs. 18.82 crores, Rs. 4 lakhs as cash, besides gold jewellery worth Rs. 18.45 lakhs and diamonds worth Rs. 5.81 lakhs.
Govinda owns property worth Rs. 13.5 crores that includes two bungalows at Juhu (Rs. 1.43 crores) and Madh Island (Rs. 1 crore) and jewellery worth Rs. 1.85 crores.
The Nationalist Congress Party president, Sharad Pawar, possesses a flat worth Rs. 91 lakhs, and has deposits in banks and financial institutions to the tune of Rs. 2.8 lakhs.
An affidavit submitted by Mr. Pawar, while filing nomination papers for the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency on April 2, declared his total assets at Rs 3.6 crores.
— UNI, PTI
April 8th, 2004
Tol, poll ke bol
|A STAFF REPORTER | Thursday, April 08, 2004 12:37:20 IST|
|Roadside astrologers make their predictions for the elections, but prefer to keep Arun Gawli out of their forecasts|
The cards are laid out, and with closed eyes they are set to predict poll results in Mumbai. No Jai Ganeshas or tarot-card reading, the roadside astrolgers prefer to get down to business straight away.|
Predictions from the change of government to the possibility of young politicians winning seem to be the trend in this year's election.
Ram Lakhan Sharma, one of the popular streetside astrologers in and around the Flora Fountain area, can be found amongst the row of endless booksellers. In fact, he could easily pass off as one of them, the giveaway is the array of colourful charts in various shapes and sizes.
Sharma predicts, "This year's election will be same as the earlier election." Though he prefers to keep it short and precise, he is only happy to predict the future of the popular candidates. "With Sunil Dutt and Sanjay Nirupam contesting against each other, I think Sunil Dutt has a better chance, because the people are happy with him and don't want a change. But there will be a kaante ki takkar between Govinda and Ram Naik."
On the other hand, Jeetendra Trivedi, who sits at Mahapalika Marg is more detailed in his poll prediction. "The people are angry and are not interested in elections anymore. There won't be a majority of any one party. BJP ko Congress bhari padega. The stars foretell, there will be change in satta. And soon one important leader from the two parties will die!" said a grim-looking Trivedi.
Ask him to predict about each candidate and he says excitedly, "Govinda has more power and a better chance of winning. He is young and intelligent and the stars say, someone who is young will win... Sunil Dutt is a decent man, woh to garibo ke datta hai, doosro ke jaisa paisa nahin kahte."
On the overall elections, he closes his eyes and declares, "Is bar to Soniyaji hi jeet kar aayengi." However, none of the astrologers were willing to speak about don-turned politicIan, Arun Gawli. Instead they said, "Maaf karo, unke baare mein kaisa bolega."