Kolkata: Etched in Indian viewers' memory as the demure Draupadi in B R Chopra's Mahabharat, actress-turned-BJP candidate Roopa Ganguly is determined to draw attention to "big issues", rather than raising "politically motivated" ones, if she is chosen as a legislator.
Ganguly, who has also worked in a number of films by famed directors and is also a talented singer, says one of the key points she would like to highlight is the "hopelessness" among people in Bengal with the "police becoming defunct" in state chief minister Mamata Banerjee's reign.
To make inroads into the legislative Assembly, Ganguly these days can be seen in a non-glamorous avatar, seeking a thumbs up for the lotus symbol from the electorate in West Bengal's Howrah North.
The 49-year-old is pitted against former cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla, fielded by the ruling Trinamool Congress, and Santosh Pathak, the Congress candidate, who has the support of the Left Front.
"I will be happy if I am able to get inside the Assembly and raise the pertinent issues other than any politically-motivated issues," Ganguly told IANS in the midst of her campaigning in the hot March sun.
Conceding it will be a "tough fight", Ganguly is ready to take on her political adversaries. "All I can say is I am dedicated in whatever I do."
She said people were "very eager to see a change. People in Howrah North are truly neglected like in many parts of Bengal. In the Assembly, there have been issues which are not being raised," she said.
Wooing the predominantly Hindi-speaking electorate in the urban constituency comprising 270,000 voters, Ganguly added a touch of theatre to her campaign when she dressed up as a gopini (Krishna devotee) playing Holi.
"I have achieved all that I had to in showbiz. Now it is all about working for the people. Only time will tell how much I can reach out and retain my connection with them," she said with a smile.
However, her amiable nature doesn't hide her angst against the "deteriorating law and order situation" in Bengal under Banerjee's rule.
Holding that the police were at the "mercy" of the Chief Minister, she said "police are not being made to perform the way they should be."
Industry, she said, was "running away from Bengal because of the law and order situation." Also known for her performances in films like Gautam Ghose's Padma Nadir Majhi and Abar Aranye, Yugant by Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh's acclaimed movie, Antarmahal. She also landed a role in Mrinal Sen's Ekdin Achanak.
Claiming to feel the pulse of the voters, Ganguly says people are "feeling hopeless and hapless and leaving Bengal."
"They have their businesses outside. It is no point trying to get in businessmen from Singapore and London... having business summits. She is overlooking the people who are actually sitting in our state and doing business outside. Why doesn't she just get them together ... her prime focus has always been to win the next election," she says in anger.
But will the perceived political fissures between her and her party colleagues, including the much derided "jhalmuri (puffed rice) politics" (Ganguly had hit out at BJP MP Babul Supriyo over his bonhomie with the Trinamool Congress), affect her chance with the voters?
" I don't think so. I never had any bad relations with Babul. We are very good friends actually. There was never any divergence. It was just a phase... I am happy that I have started a coinage 'jhalmuri politics'," she signed-off with a laugh.