Whenever a celebrity does something whether good or bad, extraordinary or mundane, the news always manages to make its way to the headlines. The frenzy around Indian celebrities who became politicians is therefore justified. Film industry and politics are two worlds where the most powerful people in terms of their standing among the masses can be found. An actor when successful has the power to draw the masses across the country to cinema halls just by his antics on the silver screen. The politicians are no less. Take a look at them in their constituencies; the hoards of dutiful and staunch supporters. The authority, the respect which is bestowed on politicians in the echelons of political affairs is something to take note of. Now picture the state of affairs that would result when a popular actor decides to take the plunge into the world of politics. Extraordinary is what one may describe it as. It is like the best of both worlds. Read along to find out the top ten celebrities who became politicians.
10. Govinda:He was one of the most flourishing actors in comedy genre in India in the 1990s. However, in the 2000s he suffered a string of box office misses. He then entered politics as a member of Indian National Congress. He was an MP from the Mumbai North Constituency from 2004 to 2009. He was known to have won the seat by a whooping majority but his work has been tagged as abysmal when compared to the promises and announcements he had made during his tenure. Govinda was criticized for his inaccessibility to the people of his electorate especially during the 2005 floods in Mumbai. Following his first term in the Parliament, Govinda chose to not contest elections again in 2009 and went back to movies.
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9. Dharmendra:The soft-hearted Jat who made waves in the Hindi film industry long before it was known as Bollywood, Dharmendra was the man who won over the ‘Dream Girl’ of Indian cinema. Call him The Living Legend from Punjab, the son of the soil, the original Action Hero or the Veeru of ‘Sholay’, Dharmendra is not only a highly successful actor of his time but a popular politician as well. He was a Member of Parliament from the Bikaner constituency in Rajasthan from the Bharatiya Janata Party. Dharmendra is one of the most well known Indian celebrities who became politicians.
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8. Jaya Bachchan:Recognized as one of the most versatile actresses of the Indian cinema and among the most talented ones of her time, Jaya Bachchan has been quite active in the Indian political scenario as well. Married to the superstar Amitabh Bachchan, she has also been awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India. Jaya Bachchan was elected as a Member of Raja Sabha from the Samajwadi Party.
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7. Shabana Azmi:Remember the actress in the evergreen song ‘Tum itns jo muskura rahe ho’ or the doting but betrayed wife and mother in ‘Masoom’? Of course we all do. An actress par excellence with films like ‘Ankur’, ‘Arth’, ‘Masoom’, ‘Godmother’ and more to her credit, Shabana Azmi has entertained audiences over decades with her powerful performances. A five-time winner of National Film Award for Best Actress, she is also known for her social activism. She has worked for a variety of causes like child survival, AIDS, betterment of slum dwellers, displaced Kashmiri Pandits and more. She was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1997 for her panoramic philanthropic work over a span of many years and is an active part of it too.
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6. Shatrughan Sinha:Referred to as one of the most eccentric actors of Hindi film industry, his name is synonymous with the word ‘Khamosh’ or the nickname ‘Shotgun’. Shatrughan Sinha debuted with a small role in Dev Anand’s ‘Prem Pujari’ and gradually moved up the ladder of success; some of his note worthy performances having been in ‘Kalicharan’ and ‘Blackmail’. His entry in politics was marked by defeating actor Shekhar Suman in Bihar’s Patna Sahib Constituency. Shatrughan Sinha was the cabinet Minister for the department of Health and Family and subsequently the department of shipping for the 13th Lok Sabha. He was also the head of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Culture and Arts Department. He is currently a Member of Parliament having been re-elected in 2009.
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5. Vinod Khanna:One of the most popular actors in the 1970s with an ardent female fan following, Vinod Khanna entered politics in 1997 when he joined Bharatiya Janata Party. Having been elected from the Gurdaspur constituency in Punjab in 1999, he was the Union Minister for culture and tourism and later ministry of external affairs (MEA) as minister of state too. He won in 2004 re-election as well from the same constituency but lost out in the year 2009. A rare case of success among Indian celebrities who became politicians.
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4. Chiranjeevi:Though the Hindi film industry enjoys popularity throughout the length and breadth of the country there is, however, a specific region where they pale in comparison to the popularity of actor-turned-politicians. The actors in South Indian films enjoy a demi-God status among their fans. It is almost a norm for any superstar of South cinema to take the political plunge. One of the most popular actors of the Telugu cinema, Chiranjeevi, too is one of them. He has to his list of achievements the National Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration as a co-producer and the third highest civilian award Padma Bhushan. He entered politics in 2008 and formed the Praja Rajyam Party which is currently the third largest party in the State Assembly after the 2009 Andhra Pradesh Elections.
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3. Jaya Prada:An actress who worked in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali and Marathi films, Jaya Prada first entered politics as a member of Telugu Desam Party in 1994. But when the reigns of the party fell in the hands of Chandrababu Naidu, she eventually left it citing differences with him and joined the Samajwadi Party. That was a transition from South to North. She succeeded in gaining a foothold in Uttar Pradesh despite not from the state or a Hindi-speaking background. However, in 2010 following controversy relating to her motives within the party, she was expelled from it.
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2. Jayalalithaa Jayaram:How can we have a list of celebrities who turned to active politics and not name her! Christened Amma meaning Mother and Puratchi Thalaivi meaning Revolutionary Leader by her followers, J Jayalalithaa is the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the General Secretary of AIADMK. She was a superstar actress in South Indian films before entering politics. Touted as among one of the most prolific and powerful ladies in Indian politics, J Jayalalithaa remains a favourite of the masses in Tamil Nadu and the most powerful of all Indian celebrities who became politicians.
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1. Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran or MGR:The only actor-turned-politician to have reached the acme of both worlds before J Jayalalithaa is Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran popularly called as MGR. An immensely successful actor, director and producer, MGR joined politics as a member of DMK and later formed his own party called the ADMK. He was by far the most successful celebrity transition into the world of politics. With three successful terms as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, MGR was honoured with the Bharat Ratna (posthumously) in 1988 and is still revered as an astute politician; one who remained in office till his death. Mani Ratnam’s blockbuster Tamil film ‘Iruvar’ is said to be based partly on the life of MGR.
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