10 screen politicians who are more interesting than their real world counterparts

In the constituency of tinsel town, where policies don’t matter, political figures are far more attractive. Suchetana Bauri takes a look at the 10 fictional politicians who brought the ballot box to our screens.  

political-leaders-in-our-films

Dilip Kumar as Sagina Mahato, in Sagina Mahato

Language: Bengali

While politicians had mired  labor politics in the 1960s and 1970s, many disillusioned Indians looked to their cinema  screens to see the ideal politician: Sagina Mahato, played by Dilip Kumar.

Here we see a vintage Dilip Kumar giving a sublime performance. The film was based on the 1942-43-labor movement. Dilip Kumar did absolute justice to the character of a factory worker  manipulated by the owners into becoming a labor leader. He performance stood out in the telephone sequence; while addressing the workers from  hillock; when he pleads with police to release the associate who killed a rapist; when he calls for a strike; when he confronts the mill owner; the scene with Aparna Sen when the two talk about their families and childhood, and the short climax. If you want to have a glimpse at labor politics – this is a must watch for you.

Siddarth as Arjun Balakrishnan, in  Aayudha Ezhuth

Language: Tamil

Siddharth plays Arjun – a typical young man of our times who has done his engineering and aspires to make it big in the USA. His character stands out in contrast to Michael (Surya) who is the fiery young man with lofty ideals and Inba (Madhavan), a reckless, impulsive and hardened ruffian, who aspires to become a bigwig in politics. Siddharth donning the role of confused youngster sparkles — a character that ought to find a very special place in his repertoire. His slip-ups, style, demeanour and expressions just helps in fleshing out the character. The undercurrent of pathos is a strong point of the character. Our hearts go out to him when he doesn’t know if he wants to do something for his ‘rotten’ country or just be plain selfish and leave; we don’t hate him, we empathize with him.

Ranbir Kapoor as Samar Pratap, in Raajneeti

Language: Hindi

Of the entire lot I love Smar Pratap the most. Samar Pratap is so Machiavellian he makes Rahul Gandhi and the rest of his youth brigade seem like a dim-witted contingent. Trapped in family politics, he sees his brother and wife being assassinated, he proceeds to slither his way to avenge the wrong by any means necessary; including blackmail, misleading and nepotism.

There’s literally no depth he didn’t stoop to, but where he truly exceled is in not getting trapped in the power play (take note, politicians of today!), as by the end of his plan he successfully slips out to his desired role: to complete his higher Doctorate.

Kay Kay Menon as Siddharth Tyabji, in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi

Language: Hindi

You must have heard of the heady days of late 60s and early 70s! Kay Kay Menon as Siddharth Tyabji in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi is just one such young man who is from that era. Siddharth is a student activist, an ideologue and a torchbearer of the red revolution. He is shown to lay emphasis on the praxis of joining the toiling masses in their struggle. Siddharth is shown rushing to the barricades on the sides of the workers braving the police lathi charge.

Heeding the call of Naxalbari, Siddharth leaves for Bhojpur in Bihar in order to make a real connection with the oppressed masses, leaving behind the comfortable life of south Delhi. However, it’s interesting how he fails to sustain his revolutionary zeal and cracks up when tortured by the police. The middle-class self-preservation gets the better of him making him finally abandon the revolutionary path. Thus the prodigal son returns to the paternal embrace of class society.

Kay Kay Menon as Dukey Bana, in Gulal

Language: Hindi

It’s only small-town politics at the small town of Jaipur, the politics of the ‘unfair sex’. At one it is a sordid canvas of the disgruntled royalty led by Dukey Bana (K.K. Menon) who feels democracy hasn’t yielded the fruits it promised.

He makes the privy purses sound as the most normal right all royalty. Bana shows us how democracy in our country has only yielded more despots than the royalty.

Film traverses to campus politics, where an innocent fresher gets dragged in the murky hotbed of election politics after his royal benefactor is murdered.

Then we see a girl who is ready to do ‘anything’ to grab a bite of the power. With explosive performance Kay Kay, engages the three acts together at a volcanic pace. He mercilessly pares the facades and frills we associate with Indian politicians. The ragging scenes of Rajasthan add grit to his character and situations look convincing.

Raveena Tandon in Satta

Language: Hindi

It’s again about small-town politics in the hinterland of India, but Raveena Tandon takes it seriously. She is passionate about even the smallest of things, her dedication to such every aspect of politics. Pushed to the forefront for a senior place on the nepotistic film, she proceeds to slither his way to power by any means necessary; including coercion, lobbying and sex. By the end of her plan she’s successfully slids into to her desired role: Chief Minister.

Suchitra Sen as Aarti Devi in Aandhi

Language: Bengali

Suchitra Sen plays Indira Gandhi – takes it from where Indira left her husband to be her father’s confidante and aide and soon became the prime minister of the country. No wonder the rumour mills went into overdrive when the film was released.

Suchitra Sen as Aarti, wore saris in the manner which reminded people of the Indira. Her hair had a streak of silver, just like the Mrs Gandhi. Aarti was quiet, graceful walked briskly, and in many ways, came across as an indomitable woman. The similarities were uncanny. She comes across as a political leader of great caliber; one, however, who is used by her father. Fighting all demons, she manages to carve out her own niche in a male-dominated world on her own terms.

Irfan Khan as Ranvijay Singh, in Haasil

Language: Hindi

Irfan Khan as Ranvijay Singh shows us the pitfalls of gaming and retaining power.

Here we see the dirt war that means student’s politics. Irfan’s performance makes the film absolutely handsome and marvelous — even when he leers at his friend’s girl. The scene exudes atmospheric chill, apart from his Irfan marvelous skill it’s because the scene was filmed in shadows. To put it very simply Irfan Khan just nailed the crooked campus politician who – SPOILER ALERT – outmaneuvers anyone who gets in his way.

Shreyas Talpade as Sanjay Mishra, in Dil Dosti etc

Language: Hindi

Enter, the North campus – Hindu College, one of premier institutes of the country. We get a vivid glimpse into campus politics in India (particularly of Delhi). Shreyas Talpade sums up the idealist youngster who aspires to bring about a change in the system. He does this ‘or else’ boring character quite convincingly and also charmingly. He stirs debate but also is full of wisecracks. He is not all into intellectual lingo, he takes our everyday curses and then blends them together into shocking, hilarious rants so rude they’d make a any body from the last generations to cut off their ears.

Anil Kapoor as Shivaji Rao, in Nayak

Language: Hindi


Well I am damn sure, that Anil Kapoor must have the source for inspiration for Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP. We see Anil Kapoor, a common man, becoming the Chief Minister for one day and taking on the corrupt politicians. Common people crib, carp and complain. But when an opportunity presents itself, they look the other way. Politics for them is a cesspool. Anil Kapoor as Shivaji Rao breaks that mold. He questions the system; he takes on the system head on; a system that has been patronized by corrupts politicians. With one single signature thousands are suspended for dereliction of duty, many punished for malpractices and balm applied to the hearts and bodies of many more at the receiving end of the system.

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