Tamil Cinema and Politics: Decadent Nexus?
The early political films of DMK did not have overtones of explicit party propaganda. The messages of the party were subtly interwoven in the narrative threads of social melodramas albeit with verbal and visual references to Anna. The often talked about nexus between cinema and politics in Tamil Nadu is not the same as what it was during Anna’s times. Obviously, it has lost its steam and has become a refuge of opportunistic games of film stars yearning to become politicians without sweating it out from the scratch.
Without the backing of any political ideology or a social movement, many stars are waiting to transform themselves into politicians. The star-turned-politician also seeks to convey an impression that he was born to be a politician and saviour of masses. The ongoing skirmishes between Vijaykanth of DMDK and a fellow star, Vadivelu, are noteworthy for the utterances of the later that he would not hesitate to plunge into politics to teach a lesson to Vijaykanth. On the other hand, another star-turned-politician, T Rajendran never misses an opportunity to take a dig at Vijaykanth and Sarathkumar. Days in the Tamil tinsel world also do not pass without demands from the fans of the Tamil super star, Rajinikanth, that the star must no longer wait to turn himself into a politician, Their grouse:all and sundry have floated political parties, why not the super star?
Narrow considerations of caste, provincialism and the greed to do oneupmanship over other political aspirants in the Tamil film world have apparently made almost every star, small or super, a potential politician/future chief minister, at least in the high pitched political statements that are being issued ad nauseum by the present crop of stars-turned politicians. It seems Tamil Nadu politics has become a playground for stars seeking to be politicians and in 2008 nothing remains of the Tamil political cinema as pioneered by CNA and his political disciples 60 years ago. It is decadence of a peculiar kind when the attraction of political power seems more real than the enigmatic star power. The likes of Vijaykanth, Sarath Kumar, T Rajendran and countless others in Tamil filmdom can not but be the leit motifs of the peculiar decadence the nexus between politics and cinema in Tamil Nadu signifies. The nexus between cinema and politics in itself is not something that deserves to be derided or belittled, but the praxis becomes decadent when political ambitions become the logical extensions of cinematic ambitions. It would not be decadent, if the subaltern film audiences and voters graduate from their subservient positions to put a stop to this. It would not be decadent, if the subaltern film fans of Rajini Kanth desist from issuing cliched pleas that Rajinikanth must plunge into politics.