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December 15, 1997


'Lady Amitabh' eyes politics

K Sunil Kumar in Hyderabad

Vijayashanti Superstar Amitabh Bachchan vowed that he would not touch politics with a barge pole again. But another movie superstar -- a female version of 'the angry young man' -- has sent jitters down the spines of various leaders in Andhra Pradesh, with subtle hints that she is all set to storm the political world.

Telugu star Vijayashanti created a flutter when she met Bharatiya Janata Party president Lal Kishinchand Advani in Delhi recently. The rumour mill worked overtime, insisted she was planning to join the saffron brigade.

Adding grist to the speculation were her visits last month to two villages with a BJP delegation. If she was in Nusunuru village in Krishna district to take stock of the situation following the death of 20-year-old P Bharati in mysterious circumstances in police custody, Vijayashanti visited Singannagudem village to console a woman who was allegedly harassed by the landlords. "Face such situations with courage,'' the actress, who has often played such roles on the screen, told the villagers. ''Fight for your cause."

Vijyashanti "Vijayashanti has shown an inclination towards the BJP, but she has yet to make up her mind about joining the party. As things stand, she will definitely sail with the BJP," AP BJP president Bandaru Dattatreya told Rediff On The NeT.

Despite her flirtation with the BJP whose ''principles I like'', others in the state have been wooing the 'Lady Amitabh'. Among them are the ruling Telugu Desam Party, the Congress and film director Dasari Narayana Rao who plans to launch a political party.

Vijayashanti was expected to jump on the Dasari bandwagon, after she featured in his recent superhit Osey Ramulamma. Sources, however, sense serious differences between the two. Asked what the reason for this could be, the sources replied, "Money matters."

The actress, who belongs to the powerful Kapu caste, is said to be peeved that she made very little money out of the hit, while Dasari made a killing with Osey Ramulamma.

If that was so, why did Vijayashanti act in Rowdy Durbar, Dasari's latest film which was released earlier this month? ''She has already made up her mind that her association with the director would be limited to films,'' one source said.

The actress, who has worked in more than 150 Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Kannada films, has an awesome track record. Of her 116 Telugu films, more than 85 went on to become major hits, running for more than 100 days at cinemas all over the state.

Like most superstars, her debut (in a Tamil film Kallukkal Eram) went unnoticed, but then came Kiladi Krishnudu in Telugu in 1980, unravelling her potential.

Sensing this, director T Krishna cast her in Neti Bharatham. With another hit, Vijayashanti set out to conquer the Telugu film world.

What gave her the 'angry young woman image' was Pratighatana. The film was a roaring hit, followed by Repati Poratam, Bharathanari and Kartavyam.

Vijyashanti Packed with feminist fizz, the roles brought about a revolution in the Telugu film world. Gone were the days when women stars suffered silently and made the multitudes pay for the tear-jerkers. She struck a chord instantly among audiences, especially women.

Add to that the strong dalit angle -- both Osey Ramulamma and Rowdy Durbar play the backward card -- and you have little doubt where she is heading.

To further drive home the point, the star has asked the 'Vijayashanti Yuva Sena' -- an association of her fans which was launched in Tirupati recently -- to ''fight for the cause of women, especially those belonging to the weaker sections''.

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