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Do Film Stars Make For Good Politicians?

Film stars are in great demand during election time.  It is a star parade in West Bengal; some are fighting elections, some canvassing for the TMC or the BJP.  Ditto: Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Stars are magnets, drawing the huge crowds. But once elected, are they able to serve their constituencies?  A simple analysis shows that 90% of the reel stars fail to play the role of political leaders in the real world. Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda, Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra won elections with convincing margins but eventually retreated after failing to make an impact. However, there are a few who successfully occupied centre stage: MGR and Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu; and NTR in Andhra Pradesh had a splendid journey to the top. Vinod Khanna is remembered for being the only Bollywood star to win Lok Sabha polls four times – he won from Gurdaspur in Punjab on the BJP ticket; he also served as a minister. Among the living legends, Dream Girl Hema Malini who was first nominated to the Rajya Sabha won both 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls. So did singer Babul Supriyo. Raj Babbar has been active since 1989, having changed three parties. He won the Lok Sabha seat thrice and was also once nominated for the Rajya Sabha. Backed by the Samajwadi Party, Jaya Bachchan is also making her presence felt at the Upper House. Bihari babu Shatrughan Sinha, who won two terms and became a minister, is acknowledged for his fiery debate. Jaya Prada, Khushbu, Manoj Tiwari and Ravi Kishan continue to hog the limelight. In the south, Rajinikanth’s much anticipated political debut didn’t materialise – but Kamal Haasan has taken the plunge.
K Chittilappilly

The Net Worth Game: Are Politicians Scoring Better Than Industrialists?

V-Guard Industries’ Founder Chairman and philanthropist Kochouseph Chittilappilly, in a no holds barred chat with Kerala’s popular Food Vlogger Mrinal Das Vengalat, dropped a bombshell that Yusuff Ali, CMD of the multi-continent Lulu Group, may not be the richest Malayalee of Kerala origin, despite a net worth of $4.8 billion! Chittilappilly, a self-made billionaire, said the combined personal net worth of the UDF and the LDF politicians, who ruled Kerala by “default turns” over the last 20 plus years, could surpass that of Lulu’s Ali. If one were to extrapolate Chittilappilly’s observation to the entire country, then the combined net worth of politicians could well be over billions of dollars, surpassing that of combined networth of top 10 industrialists. The money-spinning arithmetic of politicians only gets eye popping every year, especially in the light of the letter written by the recently transferred Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. In his letter, he alleged that the Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had asked the arrested Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore every month. And the maths that was allegedly given was: “There are 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai. If you collect Rs 3 lakh on an average that works out to Rs 50 crore. As for the balance amount, there are other avenues.” Is India a land of “mega bucks” for the renegades?

Thackeray : Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Can an embarrassed and troubled Uddhav Thackeray ask his Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to resign after former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh’s allegation that Deshmukh had asked his officers to extort Rs 100 crore per month for him? Given the tradition in Maharashtra’s coalition government, the Chief Minister is helpless unless the alliance partner NCP agrees to let him go. In this case, it is the NCP which must decide. Had it been a Congress minister, it would have been entirely that party’s call. Should Pawar decide to nominate him for another ministry from those allocated to the NCP, Uddhav would have to allow that. Had it been a Sena minister, Uddhav needn’t ask anyone at all. Technically, it is the CM, who heads the cabinet, but the team members are decided by each partner. When Chhagan Bhujbal was the Deputy Chief Minister to Sushilkumar Shinde, they both got along like a house on fire. But Pawar asked Bhujbal to resign when it was alleged that his supporters had violently attacked a TV station’s offices in 2003. He was replaced by Vijaysinh Mohite Patil while Shinde just had to grin (which he literally does as a habit) and bear it. If Uddhav goes against the delicate alliance arrangement, a serious crisis in the coalition could arise.

Kannada Commentary, A Cricket Conversation Between Friends: Venkatesh Prasad

Star Sports Kannada is going places! Thanks to its policy of promoting sports, and in particular cricket across the country and among the Indian diaspora scattered all over the world, Star Sports has been able to capture the niche audience in different languages, notably, Bengali, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. This is apart from the two main language broadcasts in English and Hindi. The ongoing England tour is being broadcast in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. For the Kannada language, the broadcaster has a pool of commentators in Gundappa Viswanath, Venkatesh Prasad, Bharath Chipli, Srinivasa Murthy. B Akhil, GK Anil Kumar and Vijay Bharadwaj. Venkatesh Prasad was a skilful operator of the new and old ball, having outsmarted many a top batsman in the world. He says, “Kannada commentary is more like a cricket conversation between friends. We bring the nuances of the game from different perspectives in a simple colloquial language and with very minimal bookish words. It is casual, it is fun and highly informative, meant for viewers aged from 8 to 80. Kannada commentary is Nimminda haagu nimmagagi.”

Lone Wolf Premchand

Like the Texas ranger J.J. McQuade in the Hollywood thriller Lone Wolf McQuade, this 60-year old Parliamentarian NK Premchand too likes to work alone. He is the one-man army who has made his presence felt in the Lok Sabha. A four-time MP from the Kollam district of Kerala, he is the Central Secretariat Member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party. Whether it is debate or raising questions, he is in the forefront. According to PRS.Org, between June 2014 and February 2019, Premchand asked 471 questions (national average: 293), participated in over 300 debates (national average: 67), and had attendance record of 87% compared to the national average of 80%. He introduced a private member bill overturning Sabarimala verdict and it was the first private bill introduced in the 17th Lok Sabha. Everybody from the prime minister to speaker to MPs acknowledge his dedication and commitment. And nothing misses his sight. He raised the question about a Supreme Court-appointed panel issuing an advertisement in a leading newspaper inviting comments on new farm laws. It was “unfortunate” that the Apex Court was encroaching upon the domain of Parliament, he said. If the panel can seek comments on the new laws, “then what is Parliament meant for”. Quite.
Ashok Kumar_001

How Ashok Kumar Came To Be Known As Dada Moni

Born into an aristocratic family, Himanshu Roy is one of the leading pioneers of the Indian cinema. Bombay Talkies studio, which produced a number of hits and launched several stars, was his brainchild. It was set up in 1934 along with his actress wife Devika Rani. The other partner was Shashdhar Mukherji who roped in his brother-in-law Ashok Kumar Ganguly as a technician. According to a knowledgeable source, Roy in a fit of rage threw the leading hero out of the movie as he suspected him of having an affair with his wife Devika. Now, the whole studio was in a fix as the movie was going on the floor. A desperate hunt began for a new hero and everybody’s eyes fell on Ashok Kumar and he was cast as a hero opposite Devika Rani. Now rose another tricky situation. Since Mukherji was controlling the whole project there was an issue as to how he would address Ashok Kumar who was his wife’s elder brother. His nickname was Moni so Mukherji like a good Bengali added the prefix Dada to Moni and started calling him “Dada Moni”. The rest is history.


Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.