The air was thick with anticipation at Bengaluru's Radisson Blu Hotel ahead of Sumalatha Ambareesh's press meet. Around 12 noon on Monday, Sumalatha walked into the conference hall, flanked by Sandalwood stars Darshan and Yash. The presence of the two actors was an unspoken signal to those gathered and those watching -- that Sumalatha had all the moral support she needed to contest the upcoming elections.
The support from the two immensely popular actors from Mandya and perhaps from others in the industry will be an added bonus for Sumalatha, who is up against Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Gowda, the Congress-JD(S) coalition’s candidate.
“It is not just me and Darshan who are supporting her. The entire film industry is with her,” actor Yash said. Sumalatha herself has starred in more than 200 films in Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada in the 1980s and 90s.
Known for acting in several super hit films, Yash and Darshan have identified themselves as the mascots of Mandya. The two actors have on multiple occasions announced their pride in being born and brought up in the Old Mysuru region. They also have a huge fan following in the district and the show of strength only means that fans of Yash and Darshan would support Sumalatha. The two have fan clubs in the Mandya-Mysuru-Hassan region and Yash's popularity is at its peak after the stupendous success of his movie 'KGF'.
"I have grown up in Ambareesh's house. Suma akka (referring to Sumalatha) is family to me. She has been with me through good times and bad ones. I know what it was like for her when she lost Ambareesh and I also saw her struggle. When she was thinking about contesting elections, I only asked her one thing. What do you want me to do and where do you want me to campaign? I only tell my fans one thing. If you believe in me, then you will believe in Suma akka. The entire film industry is with her and we will support her," actor Yash said.
Actor Darshan, who identifies himself as a member of Ambareesh’s family, refers to Sumalatha as ‘amma’ (mother). The actor, who has been accused and arrested in a domestic violence case, has campaigned for Sumalatha’s late husband and legendary Sandalwood actor Ambareesh during many elections.
Since the 1999 Parliamentary elections, when Ambareesh was chosen as the Congress candidate from Mandya, Darshan had worked alongside Ambareesh and also actively campaigned for him.
“Film stars are always concerned about how they look as it is a huge deal when on screen. If Yash and I are saying we will handle the heat and campaign for her, we are telling the people that we believe in her vision. We believe that she wants to serve the people of Mandya. I have helped Ambareesh when he contested election four times – one Parliamentary election and three Assembly elections. Now, I am helping a person, who I consider as a mother to me. She should not ask for my help but in fact demand that I help her,” Darshan said.