November 20, 2019
For television media that works its news and headlines around personalities, there cannot be a bigger headline than Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan coming together in politics. In an era gone by, the two – much younger – had together worked magic in several K Balachander movies. Will 44 years of knowing each other translate into a political jugalbandi, has been an oft-asked question.
Both Kamal and Rajini know the TRP reach of responding appropriately to such a query. The funny part is “we can work together” has the same effect on the newsrooms as “we cannot work together”.
Taken at face value, there seems to have some shift from more than a year ago. In the US, Kamal Haasan had said the possibility of an alliance with Rajinikanth was difficult so long as his colour was saffron. He was alluding to Rajini’s perceived proximity to the BJP.
Some water seems to have flown down the Cauvery since. Last week, Rajini pointed out that he will not get trapped in efforts to saffronise him. Only the two friends would know if that was a pointer to the possibility of the United Colours of Kollywood.
The actor followed it up with a message from an event to celebrate Kamal Haasan, saying “miracles and wonders do happen in politics”. Though Rajini’s reference was to chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami, like most of the Superstar’s political punch dialogues on screen, this too was taken as some kind of a hint.
“Miracles and wonders do happen in politics. Who would have thought that Edappadi Palaniswami would have become the CM? Even after he became the CM, most people said his government would topple in 20 days or one month, some said it won’t last for more than four to five months. But due to some miracle and wonder, he is the chief minister for two years now. Miracles and wonders happened yesterday, they are happening today and they will happen tomorrow too,” he said.
That naturally begged the question – is the duo alluding to a political call sheet in a multi-starrer targeted at the Tamil Nadu market? The news media went into a collective orgasm even when Kamal only politely deflected the query.
When asked if a possibility of joining hands existed, Kamal said, “There is no need for creating a new bonding between myself and Rajinikanth. We have been friends for around 44 years. If the need arises, we will come together for the betterment of Tamil Nadu.”
An hour later, Rajini repeated the same lines. “If the circumstances demand, I will join hands with Kamal Haasan.”
Please note : `If’ is the operative word here. It is almost as if there is an invisible asterisk mark there that says Terms and Conditions apply.
Two, the actors have been seen together on more than one occasion in the past couple of weeks, suggesting a great camaraderie. Kamal released the first teaser of Rajinikanth’s Darbar in Tamil while Rajini made his presence felt at Kamal’s events around his 65th birthday.
Electoral success has to do a lot more than just treating politics like cinema. What is happening here is that the media is latching on to every alphabet uttered by the duo, reading between the lines, creating headlines and such soundbites have the same effect of promoting a film by releasing teasers, trailers and juicy titbits from the sets of a movie. They trend, make news but for tasting success, you need a robust and aggressive political machine.
To his credit, Kamal’s MNM demonstrated in the Lok Sabha elections that it has potential, at least in the urban pockets, but there are miles to go in the Tamil Nadu political landscape before Ulagayanayakan can say he has arrived. For one, the party needs to grow beyond a one-face organisation. Is all this building up to an endorsement of MNM by Rajinikanth ahead of 2021 assembly elections, thereby giving it momentum, is the question.