Internet and Tamil film fan activity
The Tamil film fan is imagined as having “voracious appetite for their stars”, as representing the cultural politics of the state, and also as active agents in the making of the star. In an earlier post, I have argued that the Tamil film audience is film literate and can engage in critical reading of cinema. Here is a new dimension.
The internet provides opportunities to expand the spaces of fan activity across geographies, but more importantly it allows for the spaces to reflect the rich texture of what fans actually do. Though previous academic readings (such as Sara Dickey’s ethnographic account of the South Indian film fan endow the fan with agency) are invaluable, they nevertheless homogenise the film fan as engaging in one kind of activity.
In the spaces of internet we can locate the sophisticated engagement of the fans. There are the general discussion spaces such as this discussion group (863 messages till today). Thanks to blogs, I have also observed episodic spaces, which spring up for specialised discussions – such as such as this blog site dealing with Rajnikanth’s next release Sivaji (Shankar). The blog site tackles the release of the film and creates its own discourse, for example this post by one Arun about the strategies and issues involved in the release of Sivaji.
Now that Sivaji is into its post-production stage and is slated for a 12th April, 2007, release, I, as a Rajini-fan, is taking stock of the present situation to look at when & how Sivaji can be released by taking into consideration the stakes and the people involved and the need to end the unending wait for the fans’ desire to see their Thalaivar on screen under Shankar’s magic.
Arun then goes on to analyse the film’s release, particularly the risk factors vis-a-vis the perennial Tamil-Kannada identity politics, particularly the impending Cauvery water judgement issue, and the cricket world cup. His post throws a fresh perspective on fan activity. It is extremely difficult for research to throw light on the entire texture of fan activity. When fans start authoring texts themselves, the range of possibilities by which we can understand film fans comes to light. Till then we have to contend with generalisations in mass media.