Manipur stars add glamour touch to state assembly elections | india | Hindustan Times
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Manipur stars add glamour touch to state assembly elections

It could be for a fee, for friendship and for not wanting to annoy underground elements, who may be invisible but whose signatures mark and anoint political campaigns, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2007 19:06 IST

You may not have heard of Sadananda, Kaiku, Gung and Kamala, Binata and Manda but this gang of six comprises some of the top stars in the video feature film industry in Manipur. Though Manipur has had a tradition of celluloid feature films, the video feature film industry gingerly came up after Hindi films were banned in the state by insurgents few years ago.

And not unlike their more famous and richer counterparts from Mumbai, Manipuri film stars have lend a touch of glamour, for the first time, to the ongoing 9th assembly election in the state. Some of the top stars have campaigned for political parties before the first two phases (February 8 and 14) of the election and are being wooed for campaigning in the last phase on February 23.

But quite unlike their Mumbai counterparts, film stars in Imphal are willing to campaign for any political party. It could be for a fee, for friendship and for not wanting to annoy underground elements, who may be invisible but whose signatures mark and anoint political campaigns.

Ideally, if the same star is campaigning for different political parties, the campaigns are held at different places. Kamala, the top female actor, has campaigned for three parties before the first two phases — Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Manipur People's Party and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — outside Imphal. Sadananda too has had his share of his campaign for different parties.

"They charge a minimum fee of about Rs 3000 for a day. It could be more depending on the schedule. Most of these rallies are held outside Imphal city or other towns. In villages, people rush out to see them," said Chandra Kumar, secretary of the Film Forum, the apex organisation monitoring the industry and looking after the welfare of those employed in it. 

Kaiku, a top male star, said that he did campaign for the RJD, NCP and the Congress but he did so because the candidates were his friends. "I go for the person. There was no money involved," he said. When asked about a party's ideology and whether he believes in them or not, Kaiku said, "But they are my friends."

Amar Raj, an actor/director himself said that only the "top bracket" stars get a call from political parties to campaign for them. Since the Manipuri film industry is a video feature film one, these videos are circulated even in remote areas where people know them. Raj added that parties want to cash in on that popularity and appeal. The actors, of course, could simply want the cash to complement the Rs 15,000 to Rs 35,000 per film they get.

Email Sutirtho Patranobis: sutirthopatranobis@hindustantimes.com