New Delhi: From old-timers like Shatrughan Sinha, Raj Babbar and Hema Malini to new entrants--Kirron Kher, Gul Panag, Moon Moon Sen, Pawan Kalyan and Innocent-- several stars have jumped into electoral politics this time to try their luck, adding glamour to the battle for power.
Film stars' flirtation with politics is not new but so far it has not been successful in North India as much as in the South.
People in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh show an unmatched passion for their movie stars and have voted matinee idols like N T Rama Rao and M G Ramachandran to power but in the North big names like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra and Govinda got into politics with great fanfare but only to leave it halfway.
It is to be seen whether the current lot of celebrities manage to convert their star appeal for a long haul in the heat and dust of politics or fade out as quicky as they came.
This year, Chandigarh is set for an interesting battle between two celebrities - Panag, who is fighting from Aam Admi Party and veteran actress Kirron, a Lok Sabha candidate from Bhartiya Janta Party.
When Panag's name was announced, she seemed to have an edge due to her youth appeal but BJP changed the equation by pitching its own star in Kirron, who has had an acclaimed career behind her. Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal, who had to quit the Raiway Ministry under a cloud, is caught in the fight of the dimpled beauties.
AAP, led by Arvind Kejriwal, had many sympathisers in Bollywood during his pre-political, Anna Hazare days but many have drifted away post his political debut. The party may still throw some surprises from Bollywood.
Congress is relying on regional appeal by fielding Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kishan (Jaunpur), actress Nagma (Meerut) with veteran actor Raj Babbar (Gaziabad).
BJP, led by Narendra Modi, is also going with old faithful in Sinha (Patna Sahib), Hema Malini (Mathura) besides adding newcomers Paresh Rawal (Ahmedabad East), Joy Banerjee (Birbhum), Babul Suprio (Asansol) in the mix.
The party with the most star-studded list, however, is Trinamool Congress. The Mamta Banerjee-led party has Suchitra Sen's daughter Moon Moon fighting from Bankura, Sandhya Sen from Midnapore, Biswajit from New Delhi, superstar Dev from Ghatal and singers Soumitra Roy and Indranil Sen among others.
A celebrity face ensures eyeballs and in turn, the stars get a ready space in political parties but they have their own detractors within the system as many feel they get an easy ride while genuine people are marginalised.
Ravi Kishan agrees that stars face more scrutiny.
"Movie stars are human beings. We do movies about social problems and you want to contribute to society but still we face tougher scrutiny in politics. This is why many stars quit because artistes are sensitive people. Why treat them like outsiders," Kishan told PTI.
He disagrees that films stars don't do well in politics.
"In south we have great actor-leaders in N T Rama Rao, M G Ramachandran, who have left a legacy in politics. Similarly, we had Sunil Duttji and then there is Shatrughan Sinhaji who is doing great politically," he added.
Abhay Deol too believes that actors willing to do good for the country should join politics.
"If there are people (from Bollywood) who are willing to make a change in the system, then they can go ahead. There is nothing wrong with that. People from everywhere should participate in cleaning the system."
The names that successfully traded their movie fame for great political power mostly belong to the South. In fact, Tamil Nadu has been ruled by film-stars and personalities from Tamil cinema since the late 1960s.
MG Ramachandran (MGR), who had his origins in DMK, formed his own party AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and took it to great heights. He had an uninterrupted stay in power for 10 years that ended only with his death in 1987.
The party is currently led by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, a former moviestar who acted with MGR in many films and inherited his legacy.
DMK leader M Karunanidhi, a former scriptwriter and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa have taken turns to rule the state since 1989.
Legendary N T Rama Rao too rode to power in just 10 months after forming the Telugu Desam in 1982.
In the present generation Telugu superstar K Chiranjeevi tried to emulate MGR and NTR by launching his political career with a new party Praja Rajyam but he could not make progress and had to merge it with Congress.
Now, his younger brother Pawan Kalyan has founded Jana Sena party and has taken a vow to defeat Congress, his brother's party.