Film stars continue to dominate politics and lives of people in Tamil Nadu

Film stars continue to dominate politics and lives of people in Tamil Nadu

Submitted by alvin on Sat, 2016-04-30 13:22 Drama, emotion, suspense and all the ingredients of Tollywood potboiler are on display in the ongoing campaign for May 16 general elections to Tamil Nadu, where the world of films and politics mix to form a heady concoction. What is it that makes Tamil Nadu stick to their screen heros and heroines to guide them and their lives? Why do they prefer to believe film stars with screen images that may or may not have any resemblance to reality is something that is still a matter of research. But it is clear that idol worship, prevalent in most parts of the country, is at its height in Tamil Nadu and the deference to their deity is best exemplified by the abject surrender and supreme deference of the AIADMK cadre, leaders and masses to Amma, chief minister J Jayalalithaa. If former chief minister O Panneerselvam touched the ground in deference to Amma, the ground on which her vehicle passed by, is just something that rarely happens anywhere in India, or even the world.  Why Amma supporters even bow down to the chopper that is flying off, ferrying Jayalaithaa off from a rally venue. Nowhere else in India, barring perhaps neighboring Andhra Pradesh do film stars wield political clout as in Tamil Nadu ever since the Dravidian party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam threw out the Congress from power in the late sixties. It was the powerful script writer and playwright M Karunanidhi who succeeded chief minister CN Annadurai when he died in 1969, and since then the hold of persons with film background over Tamil Nadu politics got strengthened over the years. Unlike elsewhere in the country, Tamil Nadu’s two most successful (in terms of number of times and year spent as chief ministers – J Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi – have strong roots in Tamil films. Jayalalithaa was a reigning superstar of the South Indian film world and Karunanidhi a successful script writer. One reason perhaps is that these two leaders, in difference circumstances, became icons in their own right. Karunanidhi was exceptionally popular as scriptwriter and powerful with his thoughts, ideas and expression that people loved him. And once he succeeded on the political sphere, riding the very popular anti-Hindi agitation that equated Hindi with imperialism from centre and North India, he established self as the politician in the right earnest. Then of course MGR as MG Ramachandran was known had assiduously cultivated an image of a do gooder, ever willing to help people in distress and the go to man for every problem. People worshipped him and never wanted him to go. His was the only persona from the films that Tamil Nadu voters trusted in successive elections. After his death, there was big fight between two ladies for his political legacy – his wife Janaki Ramchandran and heroine and political apprentice Jayalalithaa. It was superstar Jayalalithaa who successfully utilized her star power and acumen to edge out Janaki and planted herself as MGR’s true political heir. Over the years, she developed into a politician that the nation now has come to respect. Her clear cut thinking, clarity of vision and strong convictions make her a strong leader and at one point she was also dreaming of being a prime minister if political situation so developed in the country. A ginger grouping of regional forces was being formed that could have exerted pressure at the right time, but Narendra Modi and BJP’s stupendous victory put paid to this idea. However, in 2014 general elections, even the great Modi wave that swept rest of the country, had to stop at TN borders, pause and bow down. Jayalalithaa won all but two of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu. Ironically it was that the Congress candidate in Kanyakumari was strong that he cut into AIADMK votes to lead to the victory of lone BJP MP from state, Pon Radhakrishan. In Tamil Nadu now, Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi continue to hold sway. But the political scene is hotting up two CM pretenders in fray. Film star turned Vijayakanth, known as Karuppur MGR (black MGR)  and PMK leader and former union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss, are the chief ministerial candidates from two different formations. Surely they know they cannot win, but are only positioning themselves for the 2021 general elections when they hope to see a vaccum in Dravidian parties’s leadership When there are campaigners like Karuppu MGR (black MGR) Vijayakanth, there is no dearth of entertainment as he draws heavily from his filmy persona to get his message across to the people, using drama and emotions to sway the voters. But the real scorching heat is generated by the two old war horses, Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, who have declared each other as the enemy number one. These four chief ministerial aspirants turn the constituencies they are fighting from into star contests.