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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

Sulking Odia film industry pushes actors toward politics

Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times  Bhubaneswar, February 27, 2014
First Published: 21:00 IST(27/2/2014) | Last Updated: 21:03 IST(27/2/2014)

With the general elections less than two months away, several top actors of the Odia film industry, have opted for careers in politics. Two veteran actors, Bijay Mohanty and Aparajita, have joined the Congress in the past week.

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"I am inspired by the simplicity and ideology of Rahul Gandhi," Mohanty said, after joining the party on Thursday.

Aparajita, who is poised to contest Cuttack parliamentary seat, said she always had a weakness for the grand old party of India.

On Wednesday, two more actors, Sritam Das and Pinky Pradhan, joined the BJP saying they were impressed by the vision and personality of the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

The ruling party, Biju Janata Dal, already has in its kitty several top stars of yesteryears - Sidhant Mohapatra, a sitting MP; actor-director Prasanta Nanda, a sitting MLA; current superstar Anubhav and comedian Pappu Pampam.

Observers feel the actors' rush to politics during the election has been triggered by the bad state of the local film industry.

Many reputed production houses have stopped making films and it is often alleged that black money from mining and chit fund firms have kept the industry going. Last year, 38 films - mostly with budgets less than Rs. 2 crore - were released and almost all of them bombed at the box-office.

Barring a very few, most actors depend on the Odia television serials for their survival. Nevertheless, they enjoy popularity in rural pockets of coastal and southern Odisha.

The BJD seized the chance to use this to its advantage by successfully fielding Mohapatra, the then top star, from Berhampur in 2009. Now Congress and BJP too are luring others to their fold to boost the parties' prospects.

"These actors are not known for making social statements. They are not joining politics to serve the people. It is just a second career option for them," said film and art critic Kedar Mishra.


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