On Sunday, actor Vivek Oberoi allegedly shouted at journalists during his visit to Mathura as a star-campaigner in Uttar Pradesh elections because he was asked the ‘uncomfortable’ question of whether he knew that the Rashtriya Lokdal candidate whom he was seeking votes for, was allegedly involved in the Telgi scam. While Oberoi was caught on camera abusing and shouting at the journalists, many wonder if for film stars, campaigning in elections is yet another case of endorsing brands that they themselves rarely use or know much about.
“A film star in an election campaign is merely a loudspeaker, which helps in pulling the crowds,” says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. He adds, “But, it’s important that the star at least knows who he is there for and believes in the ideology of the party he is supporting. If Vivek had spent 10 minutes researching the background of the candidate, it would have saved him a lot of embarrassment.”
The ongoing poll battle in UP has seen a lot of film stars — right from Sanjay Dutt, Raveena Tandon, Nagma to Ravi Kissan, Mahima Chaudhry, Ameesha Patel and Zeenat Aman — campaign for different parties.
“If a film star campaigns for a candidate, it does help in getting a bigger crowd. But whether that transforms into a vote bank is a different story. Stars, who do this because they are being paid or just want to be in the good books of that political party, are often clueless about the candidate,” says advertising guru Prahlad Kakkar.
He advises that if confronted with tough questions, it’s best to come clean. “Vivek should have apologised and admitted that he didn’t know the candidate rather than getting aggressive.”
Lyricist Javed Akhtar, however, says, “While, no one can justify the celeb’s lack of knowledge, in India, even the high command of parties don’t always know a candidate in a small place. Getting a star helps the parties, or why would they bother?”