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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nafisa Ali on the political trail

Pallab Bhattacharya, New Delhi

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recall Ruth Labadoor, the daughter of a British army officer on the run with her mother after the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, in veteran director Shyam Benegal's acclaimed movie “Junoon,” starring Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah? 

Well, one more chapter has been added to the eventful career of social activist and occasional actress Nafisa Ali, who made her big screen debut in Benegal's 1978 film, as she decided to enter electoral politics for the second time in her life.A former Miss India, Nafisa, 52, has been declared the candidate of Samajwadi Party, headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, for the prestigious Lucknow parliamentary seat in India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh for the coming general elections.The Samajwadi Party chose her in place of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt who was the party's first choice but barred by the Supreme Court from contesting the elections in view of his conviction for possession of illegal arms.

This is the second time Nafisa, daughter of well-known photographer Ahmed Ali, is in electoral contest, having unsuccessfully fought as a candidate of Congress party against Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in South Kolkata Lok Sabha constituency in the previous general elections in 2004.Nafisa was a national swimming champion between 1972 and 1974 and was crowned Miss India in 1976. She finished runners up in Miss International contest in 1977.

It is not that Nafisa's tryst with the silver screen ended with “Junoon.” She also acted in some other movies like “Tum Karo Vada” and “Kshatriya” (both in 1993), “Major Saab” with Amitabh Bachchan in 1998, “Bewafa” (2005), Madhur Bhandarkar's “Life in a Metro” in 2007 and “Shoot on Sight” in 2008. She has also acted in a Malayalam movie opposite Kerala's top star Mamootty. But she is remembered most for "Junoon" in which she plays the role of a British girl on whom Shashi Kapoor has a crush despite being married (the role of Kapoor's wife played by Shabana Azmi). Married to a retired Sikh army officer, she is associated with Action India, an NGO working to generate awareness on HIV/AIDS. 

It was not clear if Congress would put up a candidate against Nafisa in Lucknow and BJP too has not yet announced its nominee for the constituency which was won by its tallest leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004.


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