India has returned the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance coalition to power for a second term, with a huge mandate. In doing so, it polarized the film industry.
The NDA won 351 seats out of a total of 542. The biggest democratic exercise in the world, more than 600 million Indians voted across six weeks. Results were announced Thursday. Coalition leader Bharatiya Janata Party won 303 seats, improving its 2014 tally of 267. The Indian National Congress marginally increased its tally but will have to again sit in opposition for the next five years.
Modi tweeted: “Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again!”
Meanwhile, the release of Omung Kumar’s biopic “PM Narendra Modi” that was stalled by the Election Commission of India until the election process was completed will now happen Friday. Series “Modi: Journey of a Common Man”, taken off air by the Commission during the elections, will resume streaming on the Eros Now platform.
Several film industry support measures by India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, including a rebate scheme for films shot in India and international co-productions, are now expected to be announced in the weeks to come. The measures were predicated upon Modi’s return to power.
The elections further emphasized the divide between the independent and the mainstream sectors of the film industry. Over a 100 independent filmmakers including Sanal Kumar Sasidharan (“Sexy Durga”), Anand Patwardhan (“Reason”) and Gurvinder Singh (“The Fourth Direction”) issued a statement urging people not to vote for the BJP, accusing the party of spreading ‘hate campaigns’ and banning or censoring cinema and books. On the other hand, the cream of A-list Bollywood talent, including Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, Ayushmann Khurrana and Ranbir Kapoor, flew to New Delhi and took selfies with Modi.
The biggest upset of the election was former actress and former BJP Minister of Information and Broadcasting, and current Minister for Textiles, Smriti Irani, defeating Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in his bastion Amethi, a seat he won in 2004, 2009 and 2014. Gandhi won from another constituency, Wayanad, by a record margin of more than 400,000 votes. Modi retained his Varanasi seat with an increased majority.
A galaxy of film stars contested the elections across the country and faced contrasting fortunes. Locket Chatterjee, Kirron Kher, Hema Malini and Sunny Deol won seats for the BJP. Shatrughan Sinha quit the BJP and joined the Congress, but could not retain his Patna Sahib seat.