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Are movie stars at an advantage in poll game?

22-May-2004
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Are movie stars at an advantage in poll game?

Can power-packed image building campaigns turn reel heroes into real heroes? With the tag line ‘Hero No 1’ film star Govinda humbled seasoned politician Ram Naik in the Lok Sabha elections. On the other hand, Smriti Irani aka Tulsi, the reigning queen of television, lost despite a series of image building campaigns.

It’s a split vote so far. Advertising pundits in Mumbai argue that image alone cannot win votes while there are others who assert that reel heroes have a strong screen presence to pull the heart strings of movie-buffs.

Piyush Pandey, chairman and national creative director, Ogilvy & Mather India points out that nobody can win elections unless there’s some demonstration of inherent strength and skills. “Take for instance film star Govinda. Right from the beginning, he was known as a ‘chokra from Virar’. In some way, he must have demonstrated his capacity and capabilities to voters in his constituency, Virar. But image alone can never woo voters, that’s for sure.”

In sharp contrast, R Balakrishnan, national creative director of Lowe India argues that film heroes can easily win elections with the help of an aggressive campaign. “To start with, reel heroes are well-known to people. And most people believe that film stars will do something good for poor and needy-in sync with their screen images,” he adds.

Amidst these conflicting views, Ramesh Narayan, an expert in the industry has a totally different theory for the success of film stars Govinda and Sunil Dutt in Mumbai.

“It’s a fact that Govinda has a larger than life image.

However, a Congress wave swept the city during the elections. It’s a case of gadhas running with ghodas. With the result, reel heroes became real heroes during this election”, reasons Mr Narayan.

“People in India are fed up with people who make empty promises but then do nothing,” states ad guru Alyque Padamsee. According to him, the recent Lok Sabha election results did not reflect an anti-BJP wave but an anti-incumbency wave. And voters now show the door to people who can not deliver.

Incidentally, Mr Padamsee played the role of a communication advisor (honourary) to Chandrababu Naidu, former chief minister of Andhra Pra-desh, two years ago. As for the reasons behind Mr Naidu’s recent downfall, Mr Padamsee reasons that he primarily concentrated on city-dwellers and neglected farmers in the state.

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