Few politicians have elicited the kind of hysteria that Telugu film actor Chiranjeevi has evoked. Remarks were made in December 2007 that he was 'likely to enter politics'.
Between then and now, the Congress did its best to capitalise on the fact that his daughter Srija had to elope to get married to a boy of her choice; that his brother, actor Pawan Kalyan, had to get a divorce decree in an out-of-court settlement after a woman alleged that he had committed bigamy (a divorce was granted, suggesting a marriage had taken place); a Congress leader, Raghav Reddy, snidely remarked that Chiranjeevi was 'at best, a leader of Opposition'; and Andhra Pradesh Marketing Minister M Marappa said that Chiranjeevi is such a mercenary, he even treats blood as merchandise: A reference to the chain of blood banks run by the actor that give blood free to the poor but sell it to the rich.
Now, weeks after the launch of his party, Praja Rajyam, parties are wooing Chiranjeevi assiduously.
At the customary chai-and-samosa briefing for media persons at the BJP office in Delhi recently, there was a 15-minute debate: Did L K Advani call Chiranjeevi to congratulate him or was it Chiranjeevi who called Advani? To set the record straight about any slurs on the standing of the star, the BJP said it didn't matter. But it was clear that Advani had called Chiranjeevi, bowing to a politician who still has to open his election account.
Image: Actor-turned superstar Chiranjeevi.
Columnist: Aditi Phadnis | Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images
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