At a cinema in Mandya, the sugar bowl of southern Karnataka, the audience bursts into whistles when Nikhil Gowda delivers a line about a farmer—how he is the real innovator. A family entertainer with the usual commercial tropes, Seetharama Kalyana is the 29-year-old’s second Kannada film in the lead role. The buzz, however, is over whether Nikhil, son of Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, will make his political debut in Mandya in this summer’s Lok Sabha elections.
Indications that the third generation of H.D. Deve Gowda’s family were being groomed for a political career have been there for a while. So, speculation about Nikhil is swirling in Mandya. There’s an equal amount of curiosity about cousin Prajwal Revanna debuting from neighbouring Hassan, the family stronghold.