At a village 10 km out of eastern Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh town, there is a scramble for selfies as the SUV of Bhojpuri superstar Nirahua, or Dinesh Lal Yadav, draws close. There is a frenzy as the actor steps out of the vehicle to climb the stairs to the first floor of a building to make a brief address to the crowd.
This is Nirahua's first election, and the superstar has a BJP ticket to fight from Azamgarh, about 100 km from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi. But despite his popularity, there is a twist.
His opponent on the seat is a political heavyweight - Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party chief and former UP chief minister. Akhilesh Yadav's father Mulayam Singh Yadav won the seat in 2014, but has shifted this time to the family bastion of Mainpuri, the other seat he won in 2014.
Azamgarh has a significant Muslim-Yadav population and has been won by either the Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party since 1996, except in 2009 when local strongman and ex-parliamentarian Ramakant Yadav won on a BJP ticket. Ramakant Yadav has now joined the Congress after being overlooked in favour of Nirahua.
"Akhilesh Yadav has formed an alliance to try and stop the prime minister who thinks only about the poor and farmers," the actor says to the crowd. Whistles and claps follow.
But the road ahead is tough for Nirahua. Akhilesh Yadav will file his nomination from Azamgarh later this afternoon. But that's just one headache for Nirahua. Another more significant one is the defection of four-time parliamentarian Ramakant Yadav to the Congress.
Ramakant Yadav won the 2009 polls from Azamgarh on a BJP ticket; he was a parliamentarian before that from both the Samajwadi and the Bahujan Samaj Party. This time, his people on the ground may end up working against the Bhojpuri superstar.
"Look, I am here to stay. If someone wants to be in a party only for a ticket, what can I say? I am not an outsider. I have shot films here. The young people, they all like me," said Nirahua, who was a contestant in Big Boss 6 in 2012. He has starred in movies like "Patna Se Pakistan", "Nirahua Chalal London", "Nirahua Rickshaw Wallah" and "Nirahua Hindustani".
He will need all his star power to reverse the trend on a seat where in the 2017 assembly elections, despite a BJP sweep in other parts of eastern UP, all five assembly segments within the Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat voted for either the SP or the BSP. This time, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati are together.
"I'm not worried at all. You will see a coalition formed only to stop PM Modi will never work," said the actor.
Before leaving, the actor said, "These microphones, they seem to sap all the energy in your throat, don't they?"