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Mumb, (CNN)For decades, Urmila Matondk has enjoyed a ful ceer as a ing lady in .

for the Pty, ’s mn opposition group, Matondk is seeking a pliamenty t in Mumb, the of ’s industry. Matondk’s means she already has something many novice crave: Name recognition and a devoted fan base.
’s e fiercely competitive — 8,251 candidates were ed from 464 pties in the last in 2014.
    northern India
    In that , and as this increasingly s to be a close c, pties in recent weeks have sought to capitalize on st power — especiy, the ruling Bhatiya Janata Pty (BJP) which had added a number of to its line-up.
    This month, Daler Mehndi, one of ’s most famous s, joined the BJP. He follows cricketer Gautam Gambhir, ress Jaya and Raj , who recently joined the BJP to run in this cycle.
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    When sts announce their campgns, their political ries e almost guanteed huge crowds, says Komal Nahta, : “They have that glamor quotient.”
    “(Voters) come to their door to at ,” agrees Matondk, describing the ’s reion during her campgn tour for the Mumb North constituency.
    But alone, Matondk says, isn’t enough. “ need to develop … trust between them and ,” she adds.

    The power of

    In South , which has its own regional industry, big sts have been a ture on the political scene.
    Jayam Jayalalitha had eed in 140 s before entering in 1982. She went on to be of state for more than 14 yes.
    In 1999, when Jayalalitha with her pty’s for the in power in , the fell and was forced to h ely general .
    By the she died in 2016, Jayalalitha had left an indelible mk on the state’s . Today, her pty still routinely invokes her name and to woo voters.
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    In recent decades, the trend for movie sts into has reached northern .
    In 2003, for eample, Smriti Irani joined Nendra Modi’s Bhatiya Janata Pty (BJP).
    Once one of ’s most popul ors, Irani spent more than a decade climbing the pty ladder and using her st power to the BJP campgn. Eperienced in front of the , Irani advocated for the BJP on national during the 2014 , quickly becoming the de fo pty .
    This ound, Irani, 43, is attempting to unt Pty — and Modi’s principal chenger — Rahul Gandhi, by in his constituency of Amethi, in northern Utt Pradesh state.
    It’s her second attempt . In 2014, she ed in her b attempt to take what has traditiony been a t from the scion of ’s biggest political dynasty. Rahul is the son of former n Rajiv Gandhi, and the -grandson of Jawahlal Nehru, the — and est serving — of the country.
    Prime Minister
    Despite losing that battle, Irani was rewded with a cabinet post and a nominated t in the upper of the Pliament when Modi became in 2014.
    Amethi has been a Pty strongh for more than three decades. The BJP is counting on Irani’s to dent Gandhi’s winning mgin — a role that fits her as a steely but dutiful of , which s from the well-kn soap cher she played.
    Her campgn is among the most widely covered in the n .
    In the state of Utt Pradesh, which hs the highest number of ts for the n Pliament, the BJP is also ing Hema Malini, a popul 70s ress. She has been a member of pliament for two terms after shifting in to in 2003, and is seeking re- in the of Mathura, which she won by more than 300,000 votes in 2014.
    It’s a affr. Her husband Dhmendra, also a -st turned politician, has joined her on the campgn trl. Malini’s son ny Deol, also an or, is as the BJP candidate in Gurdaspur, in northern state.
    In 1995, Matondk eed in the romantic “Rangeela.” The was a bo office smash, featuring the Hindi track debut of A R Rahman and bringing Matondk overnight stdom.
    In the following decades, Matondk’s ceer gned pace with hits including the 1998 criticy acclmed crime “Satya” and the 2003 period “Pinj,” which was set agnst the backdrop of the - ptition in 1947.
    The st power she accrued during her decades- ceer is being deployed in .
    Matondk decided to into the political ena to fight for of speech and build tolerance in a country which has seen lynchings, mob violence and caste-based attacks in recent yes.
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    She is one of the few sts to stand for the Pty.
    “The of hatred, of di that e hening in the country. This is not what was promised to us,” says Matondk.
    Until last ye, Modi and his BJP were widely seen by many political s as unbeatable. But growing concerns over the , the right-wing espoused by the ruling pty and a series of state-level losses in December, have put a question mk over the outcome of the .
    “Both the s e very nervous,” says Nahta, the . “That is why they e to cricketing sts or sts or sts because it is do or die for both the pties — the and the BJP.”
    At Matondk’s office in North Mumb, pty ers, volunteers and ers queue for hours just to catch sight of her.
      Kula Budhelia, a senior Pty er in Mumb, describes how Mumb has si lge constituencies, but while Matondk is only in one of them her face is in the spot across the .
      “St power rey s,” he says.


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