Sandalwood star Upendra has announced his entry into politics and an end to his cinema career. What can be understood from what the actor-director has said so far is that he is launching a regional party for Karnataka which is opposed to politics based on “casteism, money and muscle power”. While appreciating the “good work” done by other politicians, he says there is need for an alternative.
Still in the making
With less than eight months to go for the next Assembly elections, Upendra’s move has caught everyone by surprise. He clarified that it does not matter if he loses or wins but he will be satisfied that he at least tried. Upendra’s political intentions were not a secret but he had always said that it will be sometime in the future. Speaking on the sidelines of Saturday’s press meet, the actor said: “The intention was always there inside me. In the last few years, I was feeling like I would end up without trying. So I took the plunge.”
The actor has called for his fans and public to give him ideas for the political move. He was not even certain of what his political ideology was. He changed his shirt to a khaki-coloured one just before the press meet started. His reason for wearing the khaki-colour shirt was that politicians need not be ‘rajas’ or ‘sevakas’ (PM Modi’s calls himself pradan sevak) but ‘workers’. So when asked if his party would then be Karnataka’s first ‘labour party’ he replied that he did not know about it.
No name yet
Upendra did not answer questions on whether his political leanings showed likeness for BJP. But he was more forthcoming about the issue of a flag for Karnataka in which he had shown an opposite stand recently. He had Tweeted that people were fighting over trivial things when Chinese soldiers were at the border. When asked repeatedly he said there was a need to protect the interests and heritage of Karnataka and the flag was a necessity. The latest politician in Karnataka has said that his party will contest all the Assembly seats in the state (in a slip of the tongue he mentioned 225 seats). However, the party, as of now, does not even have a name. The symbol will come later, he said. But he has coined a new word for politics, ‘prajakeya and prajakarana’ that are being used to refer to it now. Upendra’s party will not depend on money. He said that there was no way of knowing without trying, but he was confident that in the current scenario, where social media plays a major role, his party can survive without traditional modes of publicity that require large amounts of money. As of now, his Ruppies Resort will be the centre of his political party.
First actor in Karnataka to launch a party
Upendra becomes the only actor in Karnataka to start a political party with this move. While artistes have been nominated to the Legislative Council for long, those appointments often come from political leanings, and after joining a party. The Nag brothers were actively involved in party politics in the mid-80s. Anant Nag went on to contest elections and even became a minister. In the 90s Ambareesh joined politics and is still the biggest Sandalwood star to turn politician. But none of them ever started a political party of their own, making Upendra unique in this regard. He has promised that he will not merge his party with one of the other parties before elections.
While ‘resort politics’ is a bad word in real politics, the ‘real star’ decided to announce his political career in his Ruppis Resort, joking that an end can be put to resort politics. His resort has been in the news for some time now with a division bench of the High Court recently ruling in his favour. Upendra faced the allegation that he claimed family income of less than Rs 2 lakh to buy 17 acres of farm land, which was against the rules. The HC ruled in his favour because the authorities took nearly three years to initiate the case against him. When asked about it, Upendra said the courts had exonerated him.
Climax to an old one?
Upendra’s press meet on Saturday may be the start of his political career. But insiders who work on his films say it resembled the climax of one of his shelved films ‘DR Modi’. N Kumar was to produce this film. Sources say that in the climax of this film, the protagonist announces the launch of a political party.
Films full of intentions
Upendra never really hid his intention of politics. From his earliest days as a director, he claimed he had plans for something bigger than films. He became an actor and his popularity peaked in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Today, he cannot claim to be in the top 5 of popular actors in Sandalwood. His films and the ideas in them give a peek into his political ambitions, be it in a few scenes in ‘A’ or the more recent ‘Super’, in which he ends up becoming a chief minister.
Upendra has said that he will finish his existing film commitments. Shooting for his film ‘Upendra Matte Baa Inti Prema’ (Telugu remake) was completed recently after being stalled for six months. Another film, ‘Uppi Rupee’, directed by Maadesh has been stalled. Tamil-remake ‘Kanneshwara’ has also stopped. The only film on the floor now is ‘Home Minister’.