Earlier in the year, Upendra had announced his entry into politics. He recently revealed the name of his political party – Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Paksha. We revisit an interview that Silverscreen did with the actor on his political ambitions.
Upendra, one of the biggest stars in the Kannada film industry, has spent a considerable amount of time ranting at politicians, corporate honchos and even his own fraternity people. These days, however, there’s a new intensity about him. One thing that has remained unchanged though is his trademark flyaway hair.
“I’ve mellowed a bit actually. Earlier, I had this fervour to do things immediately. I truly believed that people would change if they watched my films. A few of them did. But to teach all the wrongdoers a lesson, I need to take the plunge into politics,” he told Silverscreen, not deviating from his on-screen persona.
The actor made news earlier this week by announcing his decision to enter politics. The announcement has been expected for a while as Upendra has never been shy about his political ambitions.
“The timing had to be right. For me, always, I will be patient till the right time comes to me. Else, it’s a disaster.”
Over the years, Upendra’s political message and fervour has attracted a legion of fans, enamoured with his star appeal and can-do on-screen image. It is this fan base that Upendra hopes to make use of to make his political debut.
“My fans are well-informed and socially aware that is lacking in other youths. As I embark on this journey, there is no doubt that they’ll accompany me. I hope to fill most of the positions with people of my wavelength. Can I find someone better than an Upendra fan to understand me?”
The actor has some novel ideas about eliminating corruption from the system. “But to do so, I must arm myself first. Politics is a muddy business. It has become dirty because of people and politicians who circumvent the system. To clean it, I must wear protection. So, in an effort to avoid all this nonsense, I have decided to make my political party a completely self-reliant one. We won’t ask anybody for money. That way we won’t have to please anybody else. We will stay true to our image.”
Upendra hopes to make extensive use of social media and other such tools to connect with people. “Bengaluru is the city of innovation. If a party started here cannot make use of technology then what is the use of calling ourselves Kannadigas?”
A name for his political party is yet to be decided, though that is the one question that he is being asked. “Name recognition is everything. They want to associate me with something. I was an actor then. I always had the film I was working on tagged to my name. Uppi 2 Upendra, Mukunda Murari Upendra. Now, I have nothing in front. So the people want to know my new name.”
Left to him, the party’s name might just have a quirky feel to it. “But I have been strongly cautioned. This is serious business, after all.”
The actor’s social media account is full of supportive messages from his fans. There are also a few cautioning him about the nature of politics and by extension, politicians. “Such love my fans have for me. They look after me like my parents do. I know that I have a huge responsibility riding on my shoulders, and it is only making me more determined. I have promised my people that I will do good for them. I cannot let them down, like the others before me have.”
Upendra has also decided to quit films, to focus on his party. “I have one film that I’m yet to complete. After this is done, I will devote my time, my energy, and my life to my people.”
The concept of social work is a flawed one, Upendra claims. “Nobody does anything worthwhile for free. Would you write for free? Even if forced to, will you do a good job? Anything that comes with a free tag isn’t going to be genuine. It is going to be forced. A politician, who has to transform the lives of people cannot afford to do this. I won’t work for free. But, I will work hard, and take a nominal amount for my efforts.”
The actor has dismissed suggestions that he could use his films as a sort of publicity tool for his political party. “That would be wrong. We must not set bad precedents for the youth,” Upendra says.
The actor has given out three different email addresses so that his fans could write in with suggestions and advice for his political party. At the last count, the addresses have received over 150,000 messages. A group of volunteers is going through them meticulously, Upendra assures us.
With the elections scheduled for May 2018, everybody is a little apprehensive about Upendra’s claims. “It is not impossible to start a party and contest in the elections in a couple of months. We’ve seen it in films. Now, watch as I do it in real life.”
The interview was originally published on August 15.