No big election in Karnataka — be it for the Assembly or Lok Sabha — is complete without the presence of glitz and glamour from the Kannada film industry.
While the influence of the film industry on state politics is far lesser when compared to neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Sandalwood has had its share of celebrities getting elected now and then.
South First compiles a list of Kannada film personalities who are in the fray in the upcoming Assembly elections and a few prominent ones who failed to get tickets from their respective political parties.
Constituency: Kanakapura; Party: Indian National Congress
Before venturing into politics, DK Shivakumar was an film exhibitor. He has often shared his experiences as an exhibitor from various platforms, including political. He would recall running around to collect film rolls in boxes and supply them on time to the touring talkies that he operated in various places in and around Kanakapura.
He was also an active member of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) and even contested in the film body elections. However, he took a sabbatical from film exhibition after getting into politics.
However, he recently paid a visit to the KFCC to revive his membership with the film body as an exhibitor.
He currently owns several multiplexes in prominent malls in Bengaluru, all of which provide advanced movie-watching experiences with hi-tech facilities.
Constituency: Sorab; Party: BJP
The elder son of prominent political leader and popular former chief minister, the late Sarekoppa Bangarappa, Kumar Bangarappa began his career as an actor with a series of movies in the late 1980s and the 1990s.
Popular as an “action hero”, he made his entry into politics after his father vacated his seat to contest in the Lok Sabha elections in 1996. In 1999, Kumar Bangarappa won from the Sorab constituency and became the youngest minister of state in the SM Krishna-led Congress government.
While Sorab has been a Bangarappa family stronghold, the constituency has witnessed sibling rivalry in recent years. In 2018, Kumar Bangarappa, who left the Congress, won in Sorab on a BJP ticket and is yet again up against his brother Madhu Bangarappa (Congress) in the 2023 election.
He was last seen in a special role in the Kannada film Chakravathy (Emperor, 2017) with ‘Challenging Star’ Darshan in the lead.
Constituency: Sorab; Party: Indian National Congress
Madhu Bangarappa, the youngest son of S Bangarappa, also has close connections with the Kannada film industry. He started as an executive producer and then went on to become a producer.
Among the many films he produced is Belliyappa Bangarappa (1992), starring his elder brother Kumar Bangarappa.
Though he himself acted in a couple of films in small roles, his last film as a producer was Kallarali Hoovagi (2006) directed by TS Nagabharana.
He was also taking care of the audio label Akash Audio, started by the Bangarappa family.
Before joining the Congress, he was elected as MLA from the Sorab constituency on a JD(S) ticket in the 2013 elections.
Constituency: Ramanagar; Party: JD(S)
Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the son of former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, is all set to contest the polls for the second time after losing out to Sumalatha Ambareesh from Mandya in the Lok Sabha election in 2019.
He made his acting debut in Jaguar (2016) and has so far acted in four films. In his last venture, Munirathna Kurukshetra (2019), he portrayed the mythological Abhimanyu from the Mahabharatha. It was produced by Munirathna, who is now in the BJP.
He is contesting from Ramanagar which is represented by his mother Anitha Kumaraswamy.
Constituency: Channapatna; Party: JD (S)
Before making his foray into politics, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy had close connections with the Kannada film industry.
While he initially took care of running the Chennambika Theatre in Holenarsipura, he later ventured into distribution, exhibition and production.
He produced at least six films under his banner — Channambika Films. They were all produced in the name of his wife Anitha Kumaraswamy. He launched his son Nikhil with the film Jaguar.
Suryavamsha (1999), starring the late Dr Vishnuvardhan, is one of the most successful films made under his banner.
Constituency: Hirekerur; Party: BJP
BC Patil first joined the Karnataka Police and later made his debut in the Kannada film Nishkarsha (1993). Thereafter, he has starred in no less than 25 movies.
As a three-term MLA from Hirekerur Assembly Constituency, he is serving as the agriculture minister in the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government.
Constituency: Rajarajeshwari Nagar; Party: BJP
Before making his entry into politics, Munirathna was a BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) contractor. He first got elected as a corporator from Yeshwantpur.
Next, he ventured into film production. From Aunty Preethse (2001) to his magnum opus Munirathna Kurukshetra, he has produced several big-budget ventures to date.
He serves as the minister of horticulture and planning, programme monitoring & Statistics in the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government.
He was most recently in the news for announcing a film on Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, two fictional Vokkaliga chieftains who the BJP has been trying to pass of as historical figures who killed Tipu Sultan. He was also booked for hate speech against Christians.
Constituency: Channapatna; Party: BJP
CP Yogeeshwar’s first onscreen appearance was for the blockbuster film Ranadheera (1988), starring V Ravichandran and Khusboo.
He eventually did lead roles in movies and earned critical appreciation for his roles in films like Sainika (Kannada, 2002) and Uttara Druvadind Dakshina Druvakoo (2001).
He was last seen as a cop in Attahasa (2013), a film based on the life of slain forest brigand Veerappan.
An MLC, he served as minister of tourism in the BJP government.
Umapathy Srinivas Gowda
Constituency: Bommanahalli; Party: Indian National Congress
A businessman-turned-film producer, Umapathy S Gowda entered the film industry as a producer under his banner Umapathy Films. Hebbuli (2017) starring Kichcha Sudeep marked his debut.
Later, he returned with yet another blockbuster Roberrt (2021) featuring Darshan. His last ventures were Madhagaja (Rutting Elephant, 2021) with Sri Murali and Upadhyaksha (Vice-President, 2022) with Chikkanna.
He did bhoomi pooja in 2021 to construct a Film City worth ₹175 crore on a 25-acre piece of land near Bengaluru.
Srinivas N and Munikrishna
While director-producer Srinivas N, known as Smile Sreenu, is contesting from the Kudligi Assembly constituency on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket, small-time actor Munikrishna is contesting as an Independent from the Anekal Assembly constituency.
No tickets please!
Former MP Shashikumar, a popular actor who joined BJP, failed to get a ticket and so is the case with senior actor Umashree, a member of the Congress. She is a sitting MLA from Terdal and a former minister.
Former IAS officer K Shivaram failed to get a BJP ticket to contest from Anekal Assembly Constituency.
Though popular comedian Tennis Krishna was given a ticket from AAP to contest from Turuvekere, the actor told South First that he did not submit the B form due to differences with the party.
Kannada star actor Kiccha Sudeep recently announced that he is campaigning for BJP in the Assembly elections, especially for Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, whom he calls “uncle”.
Mandya MP (Independent) Sumalatha Ambareesh, too, expressed her support for BJP candidates from the Mandya constituency.
Senior actor-politician Mukhyamantri Chandru, who joined AAP, is the head of the campaign committee for the party.
Popular actor Ramya aka Divya Spandana, a former MP from Mandya, has been named as a star campaigner for Congress this election. Ramya was head of Congress IT Cell till 2019 when she abruptly withdrew from politics. She was seen walking alongside Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
The rest of the actor-politicians will be seen campaigning for the candidates of respective political parties.