January 6, 2018
For some years now, memes and jokes on Rajini and his super human abilities have been a regular in my inbox. The cult status that he enjoys in south India hasn’t escaped fans from the north, but the man and his mannerisms have somehow become bigger than his box office success; almost negating the saying,’an actor is as good as his last hit’. And that sort of explains his stardom and his fan base. So, is that the reason Rajinikanth is getting into politics? To exploit his fan base to do good for the state? In his speech he clearly states that the present system is not right and it needs a revolution to change the status quo. The political crisis that the state has seen; that rulers have become looters is the primary reason why he needs to step in. After the demise of Jayalalitha, Tamil Nadu is achor less and DMK leader Karunanidhi doesn’t have the health on his side. But are these big enough reasons for him to enter politics? Has it become too easy for actors to enter politics without any political body of work? Bollywood’s only PR guru Dale Bhagwagar gives a unique perspective on this. “An actor is not just an actor; he’s an image; a brand. A perception, and it’s like a balloon. If the balloon bursts, the perception is damaged,” says the public relations expert.
He explains, “Rajinikanth is the epitome of such perception. He is the Chuck Norris of India; the superhero who can get away with anything. That’s the image. That’s the brand. Now just imagine a little pin coming in the way of that balloon. What if it bursts? What will be the implications… not only on the political party, not only on society, but on the brand which took years and years to be created. Glory is at stake.”
Dale points out the case of Amitabh Bachchan, the Bollywood megastar who realized that politics was not his cup of tea and returned to movies. “He had age on his side then. Rajinikanth doesn’t have that in his favour anymore. Risking glory for an experiment at this stage of his career is not a wise decision at all.”
Does he have it in him?
Journalist Sanjeev Singh in a column for the Times of India says, “Given the personality vacuum created in the state, Rajnikanth’s timing could prove to be a political masterstroke. The onus is now on him to fill this vacuum and successfully evolve from a superstar to a mature politician’. “Rajnikanth’s foray into politics will also be an attempt to explore the feasibility of soft Hindutva where religion will find itself back in the spotlight after being pushed to the margins of the Tamil psyche”.
It is true that the state suddenly found itself in the midst of a chaos but politics has been about corruption and goondaism for sometime now even in Tamil Nadu just as in other parts of India. It is hard to believe that a state run by a lady who known to be dictator didn’t twist hands, ruffle up some feathers. So, it isn’t a sudden downhill but a gradual one. Even though it is refreshing to see someone talk of spiritual politics and a clean system, how much of that will actually translate is a matter of time. “As of now people of TN are tired of Dravidian politics. They are desperate for a change. A change that is free from corruption and good raj. Rajini has got the charisma but whether it will be transformed in votes is a million dollar question. People, especially the lower class can be bought for Rs 2000 or 3000 per vote, it was very evident in the just concluded RK Nagar bypoll. Rajini being an outsider may be an issue, but hope is the only thing we have, so hopefully he will deliver,” Hemamalini, Journalist. It isn’t that the voters are blind and take misdeeds kindly. In earlier occasions, they have punished the DMK and AIADMK for corruption. The issues have to be taken up by any party that wants to come to power. AR Rahman, the music maestro openly talked about doing good for the state and the people, whichever party comes to power. He stressed on an able leadership. So the patronage that Rajinikant is looking for may not be the right answer for Tamil Nadu. But given his fan club, he might just be the leader people were waiting for. “ I don’t have a very strong opinion on this. But whatever little I know, he is known to be a genuine and kind person. If it will transform into his political career fighting all odds, only time will tell. I just hope that if his party wins majority seat, he brings about some change. And the support is there, since we are without an option,” says Sowmya, IT employee. Adding to the same thought, Zahid Syed, Marketing Manager says, “I am not sure if he is capable of bringing in a revolution. But he has a solid backing of his fans, which is mammoth.”
It isn’t clear if he has the backing of the saffron brigade, just as many are claiming but his challenge would lie in coming out of his larger than life image, that solves problems in a jiffy through superhuman powers to a more human erred person who will take time to make a mark in politics. “If people are expecting an overnight change, relating his political career to his onscreen image then the will get disappointed. He needs to shed his charisma to change the big bad world of politics that he is entering,” concludes Sayoni Das, Researcher.