Why it’s not easy for Kamal or Rajini to do a MGR
Chennai: Actor Kamal Haasan will soon launch a political party in Tamil Nadu.
His friend and colleague Rajinikanth has been mulling over the idea for the last two decades and has been testing the waters in the last few months.
In Tamil Nadu, there has always been a close nexus between politics and cinema.
While some of them have grown to be popular and influential figures in politics, many have been mammoth failures too, including Sivaji Ganesan.
Chief minister J. Jayalalithaa death last year and grand old man M. Karunanidhi’s gradual from active politics on account of his advanced age has created a vacuum in Tamil politics. But it’s not going to be easy for either Kamal Haasan or Rajinikanth to do an MGR.
MGR or M.G. Ramachandran, founder of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) enjoyed a unique following and was a symbol that captured the imagination of the poor and marginalised. His was a consciously constructed image that aided the Dravidian movement and later swelled into idolatry by the Tamil masses.
In a state where Dravidian politics coalesced on Tamil identity and language, the theatre and cinema became the most effective tools to mobilize and influence masses.
“Cinema or theatre were means of communication. People with political interests used it as a tool in the past and a mere celebrity status hasn’t worked to be successful in politics,” said writer- translator Aazhi Senthilnathan.
Critics say the two actors are being opportunistic—having failed to speak up over the years, they have opened up only when the state is struggling with its weakest government in decades.
But, Haasan who recently said he was “ready to take up the chief minister’s chair,” has been saying that he has “always been in politics”.
In response, fisheries minister D. Jayakumar said that the actor cannot become the chief minister merely by being on Twitter. “He should be among the people. Let him become an MLA first.”
Senthilnathan accused Rajinikanth of having used “politics as a marketing strategy for his films”.
The southern state saw actor Vijayakanth venture into politics in 2005 as an alternative force to the two major players in Tamil Nadu politics and his party Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) garnered over 8% vote share within a year. But he failed to create an impact subsequently.
“Even ten years before his entry into electoral politics, Vijayakanth was preparing the ground through his fan associations, which even had a proper party flag and symbol,” claimed Senthilnathan.
But Haasan and Rajinikanth are yet to create a political infrastructure, said the writer.
“MGR’s fan clubs were part of the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). And, those fan associations later transformed into a party when he parted ways with the DMK. For people who had begun to hate Karunanidhi’s politics, MGR came in as an equal leader to Karunanidhi,” said Senthilnathan.
Of the 133 Tamil films MGR acted from 1936 to 1978, nearly one fourth spoke of the Dravidian ideology. Similarly, Karunanidhi was a script writer in movies because he wanted to propagate the same ideology. Jayalalithaa was the AIADMK’s propaganda secretary and a Rajya Sabha MP before she headed the party.
Despite an organic relationship between cinema and politics, the former hasn’t solely decided the latter. Rather, it was vice-versa