Actress Roopa Ganguly eyes political stardom

Content with her exploits on celluloid, actress Roopa Ganguly - who became a household name playing Draupadi on the small screen decades ago - is now eager to let the political activist in her to take centrestage, notwithstanding a stuttering start.

Roopa Ganguly
Roopa Ganguly

Initially projected as the BJP's face for the April 18 Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls, Ganguly was forced to stay away from the contest after her name did not feature in the city's list of voters, a must for any candidate in the civic election.

But Ganguly feels her absence from the fray won't hamper the Bharatiya Janata Party's chances in the election, perceived as a precursor to the West Bengal assembly polls next year.

"In the past 25 years or so, I have done all kinds of roles and I am very satisfied with what I have achieved. Now it's time for the actor in me to give way to the political activist," Ganguly told IANS.

"I am not here to etch a career in politics. Rather, I want to be known as an activist who worked for the poor and the deprived," the actor-turned politician said.

The actress, who debuted in the Anil Kapoor-starrer "Saaheb" in 1985, said of her cinema career: "Lately, I have been refusing a lot of film offers. Since I need to sustain myself, I may do two-three films a year, but I don't think I will have time for more. It's now time for me to repay the people by working for them."

Ganguly, who won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for rendering her voice in the Bengali film "Abhosheyshey", also ruled out making a foray into singing again.

"It's one of those things that can't be explained. More than my singing abilities, it's the song and the visuals that created the magic.

"I am really proud of the award, but I am not a trained singer and there is little chance of me singing again," said Ganguly, known for her roles in films like "Padma Nadir Majhi" by Gautam Ghose, "Yugant" by Aparna Sen and "Antarmahal" by Rituparno Ghosh.

Blaming the ruling Trinamool Congress for deleting her name from the city electoral list, Ganguly said it would in fact be a blessing in disguise.

"Had I been contesting, I would have concentrated on the ward where I was the candidate. But now I am reaching out to people of all the 144 wards to know their problems and aspirations."

Ganguly was set to contest from ward 96, but her candidature was replaced at the last hour by another actress-turned politician, Sarbari Mukherjee.

"I have been a regular voter from Golf Green where I live. Around 2010, with the Trinamool gaining ground in the state, my name and those of many others - known for being Left sympathisers - were deleted," said Ganguly, who gained cult popularity for playing Draupadi in the television series "Mahabharat".

Talking about her journey from the Left to the BJP (which she joined earlier this year), the actress attributed the change of heart to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma and his party's development politics.

"That the BJP is pursuing communal politics is only an accusation. In fact there are many parties which in the name of secularism seek to divide people on religious and community lines," she said.

The KMC, Ganguly said, had become synonymous with corruption.

"People are fed up with the Trinamool and are looking to Modi and the BJP for a change they hoped for but never got from the Trinamool," she said.

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