September 22, 2017
Two superstars and contemporaries, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, seem headed for a political clash as they begin to take positions on the opposite sides. While, Kamal Haasan takes guard with a Left of the centre stance Rajinikanth is believed to be close to the BJP. Both may, eventually, launch own parties.
Chennai: Tamil Nadu is poised to host a star war, or rather a superstar war, with Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth sure to be ranged against one another, so to speak, as they stand on the opposite sides of the political spectrum.
But one thing that is common between them is their ‘relative unwillingness to come out with clear cut announcement about entry into politics’ and both talk in riddles and puzzles. On reflection, perhaps Kamal Haasan is somewhat clearer today than before as he is slowly coming out with his intentions – enter politics for sure, but when and how is a suspense that this film doyen maintains on his political role. All he said what he will be ready even if polls were held in 100 days.
If Kamal Haasan occupied prime time space on television the entire day on Thursday, Rajinikanth woke up on Friday to tweet into television headlines by proclaiming his full support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest campaign – Swatchchta Hi Seval hai.
Kamal Haasan’s feeble forays into political space, through his a tweet here and a tweet there, comments against establishment in Tamil Nadu at available forums, whether a marriage ceremony or a film function, were more likely in reaction to the clamour for Rajinikanth’s entry into politics by his fans.
At least on this count, the kind of response Rajinikanth fans to his films or his personality is way ahead of Kamal Haasan, though he sure has endeared himself to the masses as an actor of immense talent and excellence.
But in the midst of all the hype over the exciting buzz of a potential starwars in a political thriller to his Tamil Nadu, there is this question that begs to be asked.
Are the days of solo Hero turned politician sweeping the state and coming to power over?
Current day politics, dominated by two Dravidian parties now run by professional politicians, in Tamil Nadu does not guarantee a successful opening to film stars, even as legendary as Rajinikanth or a Kamal Haasan. Why we need only to peep into neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where mega star Chiranjeevi came a cropper after he went solo in politics, floated own party, Praja Rajyam Party. The party launch show was the biggest hit, but he bombed at elections, winning a mere 18 out of the total 294 seats he contested.
Eventually, he merged his party with the Congress and became a minister at the centre, and then sank without a trace. And he is back to films, where he best belongs. That the Congress later also sank without a trace in Andhra Pradesh or Telangana it created, but that is another story.
Cut to Tamil Nadu and there is another example of a film star, biting the dust, so to speak. Film star Vijayakanth, relatively lower ranked as compared to the top two, broke into politics a few years ago and had notched up some 8 per cent vote share. In fact, it was only after Jayalalithaa teamed up with Vijayakanth that she swept the 2011 general elections. Vijayakanth won 29 seats, the highest he could. In the subsequent elections, he fought the polls on his own, and could not win even a single seat, including his own.
Yes, there is a vacuum in the state after Jayalalithaa’s death and people are seemingly unhappy with the two Dravidian forces.
But, explain political analysts, Tamil Nadu will go with the Dravidian parties for the present. If these two film stars want to join politics, they are free to, but will have to build acceptance with a credible socio-economic alterative they offer. If an MGR or a Karunanidhi could successfully win elections, it was only because they were backed my movements, said Prof Ramu Manivannan of the Madras University.
Both Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan are getting aged and the real question is whether they have the time to build successful movements and work tirelessly for people to accept them as leaders who mean business. For both, it would be a big challenge to take on the two well-entrenched Dravidian parties and beat them, Prof Manivannan said.