While Swabhiman Sanghatna head Nitesh Rane’s recently-launched Maharashtra Kalanidhi (MKN) has claimed to provide financial security to the ailing Marathi film industry, the visible camaraderie between Marathi politicians and the state’s vernacular entertainment industry dates back to decades ago.
Right from the 70s, when Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray extended his support to actor Dada Kondke, to Rane’s MKN, the relationship has most often been symbiotic. While the industry has benefited monetarily — with primetime slots in theatres —and sometimes in terms of security as well, politicians earned brownie points for promoting local culture and rubbing shoulders with household names.
Political parties such as the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have taken to the streets of Mumbai demanding better treatment for Marathi films. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar is known for being close to well-known director Jabbar Patel, and a number of other poets and authors. Pawar provided Patel complete protection when his controversial play, Ghashiram Kotwal, hit the stage.
“A good relationship between popular artistes and popular politicians helps both gain recognition. You will rarely find a well-known politician promoting artists from a non-conventional art form though,” said Subhash Thorat, poet and author associated with Lok Sanskritik Manch.