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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
Bollywood stars enter Indian cabinet
Vinod Khanna embraces Shatrughan Sinha
Khanna and Sinha have filmed more than 100 movies
Two of Bollywood's biggest stars have been made members of India's federal cabinet in a huge ministerial shake-up.

Shatrughan Sinha, also known as Shotgun Sinha, and Vinod Khanna were chosen by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Sinha, who has appeared in more than 50 movies, takes over as the new health minister, while Khanna gets the position of minister of state for tourism and culture.

Sinha's nickname refers to the macho roles he played in action thrillers before entering the political arena.


Vinod, on the other hand is a new entrant in politics, although he is equally stubborn and has a winner's streak

Mahesh Bhatt, director
"It's just fantastic and the most wonderful thing that has happened for the country's film industry in a long time," said Karan Johar, producer-director of the 2001 hit Kabhi Khushi Khabhi Ghum.

"Not only is it good for the industry, but these two individuals have done good work already and would continue to do so in whichever fields they are in."

He is hopeful that the pair's inclusion in the government will ensure the country's flourishing film industry is firmly on the agenda, especially the problem of piracy.

At present piracy and unregulated and illegal cable broadcasts are costing Bollywood a fortune but with little end to the difficulties in sight.

Bollywood film Devdas
Bollywood films are making box office inroads abroad
Veteran director Mahesh Bhatt is also full of praise for the actors-turned-politicians.

"Personally in my opinion Sinha deserved to be in the government a long time back," he said.

"He has been a dedicated worker and is a responsible man. He is also capable of taking any work and has the ability to complete it.

"Vinod, on the other hand is a new entrant in politics, although he is equally stubborn and has a winner's streak."

Actors in India's Government are not a new concept.

Three well-known actresses have also sat in Parliament - Shabana Azmi, Vyjayantimala Bali and Jayapradha. Azmi is still a sitting member of the Upper House.

See also:

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