In the News Channel NDTV, Dr.Prannoy Roy asked the panelists whether the North Indians are likely to elect an Actor centric party like in the South of India.
The reasons were on expected lines, with a OH! WE IN THE NORTH ARE SO SUPERIOR, THAT WE DO NOT ALLOW THAT MUCH LEEWAY TO OUR ENTERTAINERS!!
The Southern states were predominantly composed of the Madras state, Mysore state, Travancore-Cochin state, and a host of smaller vassal princely states besides Nizam’s territories. With the division of states on linguistic basis in the late fifties, states were crystallized based on the language and the culture was duly reflected in the languages such as Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada. Therefore there was a UNITY IN CULTURE WITH LANGUAGE AS THE BASIS. This brought out a HOMOGENEITY within the Southern states, whereas in the state of Bihar there are minimum 3 well known languages viz. Bhojpuri, Mythili and Angeeka, with distinct cultural uniqueness yet one cannot view those cultural uniqueness thru movies, but have to travel to Bihar to savour those.
Likewise Haryana has Haryanvi, Punjab has Punjabi, UP has Hindustani, Awadhi and Urdu etc., and each language brings its own flavour but such flavours are not brought out in the main stream Hindi cinema. Instead in the Hindi cinema there is a lot of stereotyping. For example a Tamilian is portrayed as a devout Brahmin timid and mostly called THAMBI!! Likewise, with regard to many states the stereotyping goes on for easier understanding of the illiterate masses of the Indo-Gangetic plains!!
Therefore the Heroes of Hindi movies are a jumble reflecting a wide variety of traits, which could be at variance with one another culturally. They cannot unify the population of even a state, leave alone the NORTH as a whole. At best, they could only get a ticket to contest from an established political party and contribute their popular visibility to the party that had offered them the ticket. In fact in the 2004 elections NONE OF THE MOVIE STARS WHO CONTESTED THE LOK SABHA ELECTIONS from the North LOST! Therefore it is the lack of CULTURAL HOMOGENEITY and lack of a POLITICAL PARTY that had prevented the movie stars from the Hindi industry from having such a sway. However the Cricket stars have done pretty well in the Northern states- eg Chetan Chauhan, Navjot Sidhu, Kirti Azad and even Azharuddin, who have all leveraged their popularity and become prominent politicians. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration, if one thinks that Cricket stars are more welcome in the Northern states than cine stars merely for the above mentioned reasons!!
Moreover there have been many movie stars who had tried their hands at Politics and lost. For each MGR,there are 50 others who faded without a trace. It must be understood that MGR did not make it merely on his film popularity, he was the EYE-CATCHER used by C.N.Annadurai (whose knowledge and social understanding were phenomenal) to popularize the party policies thru his movies. It was this visibility that he gained which came in handy when he was made to throw in his hat in the ring, by the wily R.Venkataraman, for decimating the sway of the DMK.
It would be too simplistic to say that movie stars make it in the Southern states as political chiefs whereas in the Northern states such tamashe is not allowed. There is no cultural unity in the northern movies, further the political ideologies have not been spread thru the movies as it has been done in the southern states.
If one were to look into the recent award given to Vivek, a Tamil comedian, it has been stated by no less a person than Dr.Abdul Kalam that the award was for playing roles that educated the movie going masses in Tamilnadu. The process of education that is carried forward in the Southern languages, thru Cinema, is considerable. In fact, i am filled with pity when the majority of the Gangetic plains of India, does not have a medium to reflect, voice, disseminate its culture except thru the eyes of the Financiers and the cine industry of Mumbai.
Further by hindsight, the PRP of Andhra Pradesh, despite the movie popularity of Chranjeevi could not duplicate the feat of NTR in the recently concluded 2009 Parliament elections in the state. Kerala as a state has never propped any cine star in the political set up of the state. Therefore to class all the southern states, as movie crazy is too simplistic and fallacious.
The important point to be noted is that since Independence, the South Eastern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have performed better than the national average in terms of literacy, productivity and development in general, so entertainment has become an integral part of the lives of the common man and as a proof, in Tamil Nadu, every household below poverty line has been promised/given a TV. They have moved over from Re.1/- for a Kg of rice to ENTERTAINMENT.
Dr.Roy’s premise seems to have an in-built ignorance in the framing of the question. Bias is inevitable, but giving those biases the respectability of National debate is preposterous!!