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How the Tamil film industry continues to influence state politics

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 - 11:41am IST | Place: Chennai | Agency: PTI
  • Narendra Modi and Rajinikanth

The everlasting influence of the Tamil film industry over the political scene in the state came to the fore yet again as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi called on superstar Rajinikant here recently.

A clear attempt by the party leader to add some star power to his political clout in Tamil Nadu, where BJP has stitched a mega alliance with six parties, only underlines the fact that the relationship between cinema and politics in the state since the 1950s remained inseparable.

Cinema, a platform used by politicians since the start of the Dravidian movement to propagate their ideology, continues to design trends in Tamil politics, which is also evident with cinema history of DMK chief M Karunanidhi, AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran and present Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

While actor Rajinikanth is believed to have made only a courtesy gesture by describing Modi a "strong leader and good administrator," BJP leaders are highlighting the meeting of the two in the run-up to the April 24 polls to its advantage.

Within an hour of their meeting, BJP state president Pon Radhakrishnan read out Rajinikanth's words to Modi at an election rally, the party's top leader addressed in Chennai on Sunday. Within 24 hours of the meeting, BJP ally MDMK released a picture of its founder Vaiko with Rajinikant claiming it a meeting on April 6, when he reportedly met the 'Superstar' to handover Ram Jethmalani's autobiography with a personal request that the southern star should support Modi for PM.

Even as the media was not present inside Rajinikanth's residence during the meetings, both Modi and Vaiko made it a point to publicise their personal pictures with Rajinikanth, which is a certain way of informing the electorate about the 63-year-old actor's good wishes for them.

Though Modi had met Rajinikanth once in 2011 and once again in 2012, his visit to the 'Superstar' this week gains significance as electioneering is in full swing in Tamil Nadu with few days remaining for the April 24 polls.

M K Alagiri, son of DMK chief M Karunanidhi, who was expelled from DMK, was another political leader who met Rajinikanth recently. While few actors in Tamil cinema industry have already shown their political allegiance to parties of their choice on various occasions, the voice of popular ones like 'Superstar' is keenly awaited by his fans.

Though the actor apparently has hinted at no desire to enter politics through some of his songs in the 90s, (Katchi Ellam Ippo Namakethukku, Kaalathin Kaiyil Athu Irukku - What is the need for the party now? It is in the hands of time - in a song in film 'Muthu'), he has not made any statement on his political inclinations.

Even as there were some speculations as he had lent his property (marriage hall) free of cost for a three-day fast being organised by 'Team Anna' activists in December 2011, nothing has come through on that end ever since the movement took a political shape in Aam Aadmi Party in November 2012.

Legislators Vijayakant and Sarath Kumar are other contemporary politicians who have founded DMDK and Samathuva Makkal Katchi (SMK) respectively and are the latest from the Tamil film world to enter politics in the southern state.

Members of Kollywood -- the Tamil cine industry, are also widely considered an attraction during campaigning for parties in the state. While actors like Khushboo and Chandrasekar are campaigning for DMK, actors like Vindhya, Ramarajan, comedian Senthil are electioneering for the ruling AIADMK.


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