By Robin Bansal
New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Some are contesting and some are campaigning. But even those film stars who don't fall in either category are making their voice heard in the run-up to the Indian general election by urging people to vote.
Industry insiders say the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, the city where the Hindi movie industry is based, has galvanised the film fraternity to take the election process seriously.
Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, John Abraham, Kamal Haasan, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Anurag Kashyap, Shriya Sharan, Shruti Haasan and Sushmita Sen are among those who have joined the chorus.
"The voter is not going to bring in a leader. He's going to bring in a 'public servant'. My advice to them is not to look for leaders. You are the leader. Think of it that way. Respect yourself. Vote in (the right candidate) and vote out what you believe is wrong," Kamal Haasan, 54, told IANS.
His 23-year-old daughter Shruti too has joined the bandwagon of stars who are urging citizens to vote. "Everyone must vote and be the change that they want to see," she was quoted as saying.
Added Sushmita: "Please vote for whoever you do, but please do vote."
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, writing on his blog, has pressed the need to vote and "choose our governance".
"The elections are upon us...colleagues of mine propound the importance of how every citizen must exercise their vote. Exercise it so true democracy can flourish. It is the most important task that we all undertake - choosing our governance," he posted on his blog http://bigb.bigadda.com.
Actor John Abraham has lent his support to the "Ungli Utha, Vote Kar" campaign.
As per the Election Commission, the total voting percentage for the 14th general election was only 57.65 percent. The 15th Lok Sabha polls begin April 16.
Celebrities who used to keep politics at an arms length have surprisingly chosen to rally around the need to vote this time. Industry experts suggest that the Mumbai terror attacks in November last year may be the reason for this change.
"Post-26/11, everyone has got shaken up and realised that they can help the movement. Earlier the film industry was not that exposed. But now there is a whole line-up of young and educated actors who are taking the initiative," film critic Omar Qureshi told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar recently shot a music video asking young India to vote during the April-May general election. He says it was "Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na" star Imran Khan's brainchild.
"The credit for the music video must go to Imran Khan," said Karan Johar.
Then there are those who have plunged into the poll fray themselves.
While Shatrughan Sinha of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will face Shekhar Suman of the Congress in the Patna Sahib constituency in Bihar, the Samajwadi Party has pitched actress-turned-social activist Nafisa Ali for the Lucknow seat.
BJP MP Vinod Khanna will be contesting from Gurdaspur, Punjab, and actress and Lok Sabha MP Jaya Prada has got the Samajwadi Party ticket for Rampur, Uttar Pradesh.
Debuting on the political front is filmmaker Prakash Jha as a Lok Janshakti Party nominee contesting from Bihar's West Champaran constituency.
Many stars who are not contesting have joined hands with various parties to campaign.
One of the biggest stars to join politics this year is Sanjay Dutt. He has now become general secretary of the Samajwadi Party, which also boasts of actress MP Jaya Bachchan.
Bollywood actor Salman Khan has wooed voters for Congress nominee Anu Tandon in the Unnao constituency of Uttar Pradesh.
Veteran actor Paresh Rawal has been roped in to campaign for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, confirmed Shakeel Khan, his associate.
"You will soon see things hotting up by their presence in the pre-election momentum," said Khan.
(Robin Bansal can be contacted at [email protected])