Film stars and directors will be crossing swords in the May 16 Assembly polls in Kerala with political parties fielding at least six persons from the industry, aiming to cash in on their popularity.
All three major parties in the polls—Congress, CPI(M) and BJP—have roped in a handful of matinee idols to woo voters.
The politically-conscious voters of Kerala normally keep celebrities at bay. However, the victory of Actor Innocent in the last Lok Sabha polls seems to have heralded a new trend.
Besides four actors, including popular stars like Mukesh and Jagadish, who have been in the industry for over three decades, two directors will also try their luck in the electoral politics this time.
While CPI(M) will support actor-turned-politician and Kerala Congress (B) leader K.B. Ganesh Kumar, who snapped ties with ruling UDF, in Pathanapuram, Congress has roped in noted character-artist and comedian Jagadish to take on him in the constituency.
As BJP has fielded actor Bheeman Reghu against them, Pathanapuram is expected to witness a triangular 'star war'.
Expressing confidence of a victory, Reghu said the response he has been getting is "overwhelming". "Though I am known to everybody being an actor, I am trying to reach out to all my voters through door-to-door campaign," Reghu said.
Though Ganesh Kumar, Jagadish and Bheeman Reghu have shared screen in several Malayalam movies, fierce campaigning and war of words among them is a common feature.
Ganesh, who had to quit the UDF Ministry after his estranged wife filed a domestic violence complaint against him, recently courted controversy by levelling personal allegations against Jagadish.
Another star contestant, Mukesh, a permanent presence in slapstick movies and known for the films like 'Ramjirao Speaking', 'In Harihar Nagar' and 'Godfather', will be contesting Kollam on a CPI(M) ticket.
Son of veteran thespian O Madhavan, who established renowned drama company Kalidasa Kala Kendra, Mukesh has been a known sympathiser of the Left ideology.
CPI(M) chose him in the key constituency with the belief that Mukesh's multi-faceted personality as a writer, TV host and producer, besides actor, could easily strike a chord with the people.