Filmstar-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar has a clear mission: not just tweet, but do. “I just do not want to sit in AC rooms and Tweet…I know what I have to do and how to do and I will keep learning,” said the 46-year-old, who has recently joined the Shiv Sena.
Urmila hails from a middle-class Mumbai family and has given some stellar performances as an actor in films like Masoom, Rangeela, Satya, Bhoot, Ek Hasina Thi and Pinjar. She is now set to prove her mettle in politics.
Before Shiv Sena, Matondkar had been associated with Congress. She resigned from the party months after joining on account of infighting in the Congress Mumbai unit.
“As I have said earlier, I am a people’s actor…I will work hard to become a people’s politician,” Urmila told DH during an informal chat at the Shiv Sena Bhavan at Dadar in Mumbai. “I am regularly interacting with people, reading a lot and making notes,” she said.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra led by Shiv Sena has recommended her name to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for a seat of the Maharashtra Legislative Council. However, Koshyari is yet to take a call on the 12 names in the fray for the Upper House.
Often described as 'Mumbai chi mulgi', the actor said, "Whenever it happens, it will happen. Notwithstanding my formal nomination, I have started working as a Shiv Sainik...I had not joined the Shiv Sena just for a seat...I really want to do something for people."
The actor, an arts graduate in psychology, said that she was impressed by Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray for the way he took on challenges like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, drought, floods, cyclone and so on.
"What has to be noted, and this is the general impression of common persons, is that he is taking people along and constantly interacting with them," she said.
Matondkar prefers not to go into detail about her nearly six-month association with Congress. "It is 14 months now (since I left the Congress)...let's not talk about that," she said, adding that she has high regards for Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Maharashtra Congress chief and state's Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat.
Referring to her start with Congress, the actor called it an unforgettable experience. Matondkar unsuccessfully contested from Mumbai North against BJP veteran Gopal Shetty in the Lok Sabha elections.
"The response that I got from the people was tremendous, the love they gave me...I am not the kind of person who will keep regretting things. It was a chapter, it is over and I have learnt a lot," she said, adding that Congress is now a part of Shiv Sena-led coalition MVA and she is working with them.
The brawl that led her to quit the Congress was a tug of war between Mumbai party factions led by Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam.
When asked about the shift in ideology from Congress to Shiv Sena, she said, "The word secular has been lost in translation. Being secular doesn’t mean you have no belief in religion while being a Hindu doesn’t mean you hate other religions. Shiv Sena is a Hindutva-wadi party. Hinduism is a great religion which is all-inclusive...we all believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam."
About whether she would be named a party spokesperson, she said Shiv Sena already has people "who are doing a great job".
The actor was set to return on the screens through a web-series this year, but the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to those plans. "There was also a film on offer and in discussions stage, but the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and the subsequent lockdown. I am focused and now my main focus is to work for people and live up to their expectations," Matondkar said.