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In changed political landscape, will Amar-Mulayam ‘bromance’ bear fruit?

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Lucknow: It is undoubtedly the most keenly followed ‘bromance’ of Uttar Pradesh. Every time former Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh meets Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and members of his family, rumour mills work overtime to announce the imminent rapprochement between the one-time inseparable duo.

Photo credit: oneindia.com
Photo credit: oneindia.com

But despite half a dozen official meetings between the two sides and many secret ones, Amar Singh’s re-entry into the party, where his writ ran till a few years ago, sources say, is no “cake walk”. Having parted ways bitterly and acrimoniously a few years back, senior leaders of the ruling party say re-entry is “neither going to be easy nor welcome”.

“Why should he be brought back into the party fold? He has hurled the choicest expletives on our leadership, has tried all tricks up his sleeve to humiliate and run down the party, labelled us goons and crooks…for most of us, he continues to be a non-political entity and a pariah,” a senior minister in the UP cabinet told IANS pleading anonymity given the sensitive nature of the issue. He, however, in the same breath, admitted that the SP chief had indeed gone ‘mulayam’ (soft) on the wily Thakur.

Sources inform that the nowhere Thakur for now is seeking greener pastures within his one-time alma mater, having failed to get success in all other parties – Congress, BJP where he tried his hands while in political wilderness.

“He has tried to cosy up to almost everyone from Sonia Gandhi to Narendra Modi and had, in fact, unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls last year on Ajit Singh’s RLD ticket,” said a senior leader, while trying to underline the ‘grasshopper’ tendencies of Amar Singh.

The SP leadership is not only wary of the Thakur but is also circumspect on the “take home” he brings while walking back into the party fold. Known for his networking in Bollywood and the political class while he was with the SP, insiders say Amar Singh has lost his utility for the party.

“Akhilesh Bhaiyya (Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son) is much more mature. He has his own set of officials and party leadership to move ahead. I do not see any vacancy for Amar Singh,” a close aide of his chuckled.

Other stumbling blocks in Amar Singh’s entry seemingly are party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav and minister Mohd Azam Khan, whose hatred for Amar Singh is well-known and documented. The duo, who hold sway over the Yadav chieftain, are bitterly opposed to Amar Singh’s re-entry and are said to be trying their best to stall any such move that is in the offing.

Khan and Ram Gopal were instrumental in getting Amar Singh kicked out of the party. Azam Khan and Ram Gopal, cousin of Mulayam, have in the past called him a “dalaal, pimp and good for nothing”. While the public rant has stopped, apparently at the behest of Mulayam Yadav, the undercurrent against Amar Singh has not diminished. Sources also said that Akhilesh Yadav too is not favourably disposed towards “uncle Amar Singh”.

Amar Singh met Akhilesh, Mulayam and Shivpal this week, but there has been very little headway except for niceties. Amar Singh, on his part, at least does not want to be appearing to prostrate before the Yadav durbar and has maintained that he is “happy” the way he is.

In a conversation a few months ago with this correspondent he said that he was “happy taking a back seat” from public life, spending quality time with his wife and twin daughters and caring for his health after his kidney transplant.

The lure of power and politics are, however, two great temptations, it is said. Only time will tell which way the tides turn in this endless political saga in Uttar Pradesh!

(Mohit Dubey, IANS)

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Film Friendly Policies and Favourable Conditions in Uttar Pradesh Interest Bollywood

Popular films like "Raid", "Bareilly ki Barfi", "Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana" and "Toilet Ek Prem Katha" were also shot in Uttar Pradesh

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uttar pradesh, bollywood`
Uttar Pradesh is emerging as the new Bollywood destination. Flickr

Uttar Pradesh is emerging as the new Bollywood destination as A-listers have opted to shoot their films in the state and filmmakers are also busy exploring virgin locations. Officials say that the film-friendly policies and favourable conditions have envinced interest in shooting in the state.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is already shooting in the state capital for his upcoming movie, “Gulabo Sitabo”. Popular films like “Raid”, “Bareilly ki Barfi”, “Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana” and “Toilet Ek Prem Katha” were also shot in Uttar Pradesh.

The much-loved films like “Mukti Bhawan”, “Masaan”, “Ranjhana”, “Laga Chunri Mein Daag” and “Bunty Aur Babli” were shot in Varanasi. Karan Johar’s much-awaited film “Brahmastra” is also being shot in Varanasi. According to Principal Secretary Information and Tourism, Avanish Awasthi, Uttar Pradesh provides most favourable conditions and resources for film production.

“We offer subsidy if the film fulfils the set criteria and we make sure that the film units get all security and assistance. We have got approval for 21 films by the Script Examination Committee which means there will be more shooting in Uttar Pradesh in the coming months,” he said.

bollywood, uttar pradesh
Toilet- Ek Prem Katha was shot in UP. Flickr

The state government has also formed a committee in every district called the ‘Film Facilitation Committee’ which can be contacted at the time of any problem or any inconvenience. If the problem is not resolved then film producers-directors can contact ‘Film-Bandhu’ division for any assistance.

Lucknow, in particular, has been a favourite for film makers. The state capital has plenty of ‘havelis’ and palatial bungalows that add to the charm of storytelling on screen and the new memorials and parks that have come up are also an attraction for film makers.

In several cases, the owners of these locations have not charged a penny for shooting. The only ‘charge’ is a photograph with the stars or an invitation to a meal.

Earlier, Akshay Kumar had shot extensively in Lucknow for “Jolly LLB 2”. “Lucknow Central”, “Ishaqzaade” and “Dawat-e-Ishq” were set in the backdrop of Lucknow. John Abraham’s upcoming “Batla House” is another Lucknow based film. The critically acclaimed movie “Mulk” was also shot in the city of Nawabs.

bollywood, uttar pradesh
Popular films like “Raid”, “Bareilly ki Barfi”, “Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana” and “Toilet Ek Prem Katha” were also shot in Uttar Pradesh. Flickr

D.K. Singh, who works as a Liaison Officer cum arranger for film units, said: “The government has come up with film-friendly policies and even the bureaucracy is going easy with permissions. Residents no longer go berserk on seeing film stars and there is a definite ease in crowd management. The atmosphere in general is more relaxed and film makers get a good mix of urban as well as rural location in and around Lucknow. Besides, there are innumerable hotels in the state capital that suit every budget.”

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The biggest factor which is drawing filmmakers to the state is that in recent years, there has been no major law and order problem related to film and its subject.

Earlier, shooting of films like “Gadar- Ek Prem Katha” was temporarily stalled because some Muslim clerics objected to some of the names mentioned in the film. The unit of Deepa Mehta’s “Water” had to leave Varanasi without shooting even a single frame because the residents objected to the subject of widow remarriage. (IANS)