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'It's important to change the image of politics and politicians'

May 21, 2014 12:15 IST

'I was astonished about my victory... Even Arnab predicted I would lose'

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Subhash K Jha

Moon Moon Sen, the Trinamool Congress candidate, contesting from Bankura in West Bengal pulled off a major upset when she defeated the formidable nine-time member of Parliament Basudev Acharia from the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Moon Moon, daughter of Suchitra Sen, triumphed by 97,511 votes over Acharia. She speaks to Subhash K Jha on her victory and her plans for the future.

This electoral triumph must be astonishing for you.

It is. Even others are as astonished as I am. Initially, when counting began I was trailing. I was disappointed and couldn’t take the news. My heart almost collapsed. I have never lost in anything that I have done; I may have given a few flops as an actress but I never failed. Even in college, when I was completing my masters degree and I got 54.3 per cent, I was so disheartened by the results that I didn’t even pursue further studies. For the elections, I was up against a formidable opponent and a rumour was being circulated that Acharia would win. Even Arnab Goswami predicted that I would lose.

Arnab isn’t God.

I know that, but someone has to tell him that. 

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Image: Moon Moon Sen campaigning in Bankura in West Bengal.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

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'I contested the polls because of my mom'

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Subhash K Jha

Your mother would have been happy to see your victory.

Actually, my mother was always against me joining politics and contesting elections. Even in the past, I was asked to contest elections by Pranab Mukherjee and many others. She was always told me, ‘don’t get into it’ and she was right. Politics has become such an ugly word in our country. My mother saw politics as a huge risk to my life. However, it is because of her that I contested the elections, this time around.

What do you mean?

There was no way I could say no to Mamatadi (Banerjee) after all that she did for my mother in her last days. She didn’t have to half of what she did, but in the end she did it. This was my attempt to try to pay off the debt. 

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Image: Moon Moon with Mamata Banerjee at Suchitra Sen's funeral.
Photographs: Abhiroop Dey Sarkar

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'I am searching for people to help me realise my dream'

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Subhash K Jha

Now that you have taken on the responsibility, what do you feel about it?

You know, I’ll say this once again. Politics is not my forte. I am daunted by the task that is set before me. In a nation that is so vast and so poor, I may be able to help only a fraction of the population and will be criticised for not helping enough. Bankura is the second-largest state in West Bengal. The task ahead of me is huge. I want to recruit young dynamic people from diverse backgrounds to help me.

So how do you intend to go about with the task set before you?

I am exploring, searching for people who can help me realise my dream. I will approach non-governmental organisations and doctors to help me make makeshift hospitals. We have also planned to set up cottages for nurses. I also want to boost tourism in Bankura. We also need to make the town look cleaner, as appearances are important. While travelling across the West Bengal, I realised how humble and simple the people are. Small boys folded their hands and greeted me. I didn’t hear anyone making cheap, or vulgar remarks. 

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Image: Moon Moon Sen filing her nomination papers in presence of her daughters and her husband.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

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'I was determined to help the people even if I had lost'

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Subhash K Jha

You seem very gung-ho about getting things done.

It’s important to change the image of politics and politicians. There is no need to be corrupt while granting favours. Instead of taking bribes from industrialists, we could say, ‘give me a cheque for the improvement of my constituency’. Bankura has one of the largest leprosy hospitals in India, but not enough facilities. There are a lot of international agencies that want to help them. Every day, I am thinking of new ways to help improve the constituency. I was determined to help the people of Bankura even if I had lost the elections.

Your husband will have to deal with your long absences from home.

I used to be away for long periods all over the country when I was shooting. My husband has been exemplary. He has brought up our daughters (Raima and Riya) very well. I take his words very seriously. He is my support system and he is so happy that I have won the elections.  

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Image: The TMC candidate says she wants to change the way people look at politicians.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

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'Being a close-knit family helped me win'

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Subhash K Jha

Speaking of family, Raima and Riya have extensively campaigned for you.

My daughters were pulled into it. I think being a close-knit family has helped me win. I had to ask them only once and they were there, even in the scorching sun. They have again surprised me. The first time was when my mother was in the hospital.

They really spurred me on to win. Riya was so prompt in sending mails and messages about our progress and campaigning to journalists. When I was campaigning, people asked me who I would call from Mumbai to campaign and I said that I would bring anyone Mamatadi wanted. It was then that someone said, ‘you have two stars in your home’. I never expected the people in the villages to accept Riya and Raima, as most of them haven’t seen television or movies. When I won, I sent them a message, reading, ‘We won’.

You aren’t doing any films at the moment?

I’d like to do roles once in a while. Acting is a magical profession. Why should I give it up?

They say you weren’t serious about your Bollywood career. What do you have to say?

That’s a myth. I was very serious. I agree that like Parveen Babi I was a bit bohemian. But I never took my career for granted. Even journalists today are far more professional. But filmmakers back then were most disorganised. They’d come to me and say, ‘Just do the role.’ Producers would drop in at unearthly hours asking for money as they had gone bankrupt. Today, the young directors in Bengal are so disciplined, sincere and hard-working. My favourite director from the current lot is Anjan Dutta. I had once let him down. I said no to him at the last minute. He hasn’t forgiven me yet.


Image: Moon Moon says she was surprised by the warm welcome the people gave her daughters.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

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