Give Me Politics! | 19 September, 2019

By Surendra Bhatia

It was a wonderful piece of news reading that Urmila Matondkar, having dumped the Congress Party she had joined less than six months back, had issued a statement that she was not joining any other political party and asked people not to speculate on her political future. It seems like a superb sleight of hand, asking people not to speculate when the level of speculation was not visible at any point of time. This is like the squirrel iterating that he’s not planning to dive into the pond from the high tree branch when no one has asked him the question. Is it because, it is tempting some crocodiles to hang around to see if it would?

Whether one likes it or not, Urmila made a hell of a political candidate. Normally, the leisurely wave of hand by politicians to crowds is vastly different from the way panic-stricken stars jut a hand out into air when faced with crowds (mobs, perhaps), and duck and hide, behind scarves and huge shades, and scram for cover. Urmila, too, has done that during her hey days. But, then, this is one essential difference between stars who reign, and politicians who rule. At the second rung, when stardom has faded, there’s nothing a retired star would not adapt to. Urmila Matondkar so amply and with such felicity demonstrated during the recent general elections (just five months back) that she was cut out for politics as superbly as she was for the Rangeela role when Ram Gopal Varma offered it to her.

Out of all the stars standing for elections from various parties, no one really came across as superbly as Urmila. Yes, veteran election-fighting film stars like Shatrughan Sinha, Hema Malini might have been more effective on the ground but as far as looking and sounding the role are concerned, no one was a patch on Urmila. During the campaigning, her clothes were perfect, her smile as genuine as a film star in a role can offer, her proficiency in languages (Marathi, her mother tongue, Hindi and English), quite impeccable, and her sense of giving the crowd what it wanted was unerring. She was as perfect in the role as any actor could get. It didn’t work out successfully, yes, but a film that flops doesn’t reflect badly on an actor who’s done the role superbly.

By asking people not to speculate about her political future, there is a suspicion that she is actually asking Congress’ rival parties to speculate — and speculate seriously about inducting her. It is quite understandable, of course. Her film career is more or less over, and she is too young and too smart to not invest in her second innings — and what better than politics? Film stars, for political parties, bring visibility and glamour, so it is fine if Urmila doesn’t have a political base or constituency to bank on. All she needs, really, is a political party to lean on — and then it is as easy as swinging to an item number. It would be a fair wager that in the assembly elections scheduled in Maharashtra, Urmila will somehow inveigle her way into a candidacy, one political party or another… and who except, perhaps, the Congress, wouldn’t want that for her?