Tamil Cinema and Tamil Nadu Politics:Mutual Admiration Societies? or …
We are familiar with the stories of Tamil film actors aspiring to become politicians. Remember the long standing demand of Rajinikant’s fans and the recent pleas by politicians like Chandra Babu Naidu that Rajinikant should enter politics? We have been made familiar with stories of actors-turned-politicians-turned CMs like MGR and Jayalalitha for at least three decades. The starting of DMDK (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam) by actor Vijaykanth in 2005 only marked yet another progression of Tamil cinema as the staple provider of politically inclined charismatic actors for Tamil Nadu politics. In this never ending deceitful game being played by Tamil cinema stars and Tamil Nadu politics, what has remained constant is the whipping up of the ‘good samaritan’ ‘evil basher’ images of the actor who seeks to transform himself or herself as the politician. Nothing comes to them more handy than wearing the time-tested magical qualities of MGR in the political acts of actors. Every such actor seeks to be ‘chinna MGR’ (Junior MGR). The game plans of Vijaykanth seem to be no different. Believe it or not, this method is working wonders for his party. Vijaykanth’s party, DMDK, had a good percentage of votes for a new party at the last election.
Interestingly, Tamil Nadu is also home to a party which hates to associates itself with Tamil cinema. PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi), an ally of DMK, seeks to break the nexus of cinema and politics in Tamil Nadu in the name of saving the younger generation from the bad influences of Tamil cinema. Actors like Rajinikanth and Vijaykanth and their films have been at the receiving end of PMK’s campaign against the “socio-cultural threats” posed by their films in particular and Tamil cinema in general. PMK leader,Dr.Ramadoss, had a close ally in Thol.Thirumavalavan, leader of Viduthalai Ciruthaigal (Dalit Panthers) party in his campaigns against Tamil cinema and its “culturally threatening films and stars” for a long time. Remember the plight of Kushboo some time back for what she did/did not speak about pre-marital sex? Remember what Director Shankar’s film Boys encountered for showing the free-wheeling and “culturally unacceptable behaviour” of today’s youngsters?
But what is Thol.Thirumavalavan upto in mid 2007? Believe it or not. He is busy working as an actor in Tamil films! This certainly marks a new trajectory in the traditional relationship between cinema and politics in Tamil Nadu where actors and script writers metamorphosed into politicians and chief ministers. There was never a big ticket politician seeking to become a big ticket actor simultaneously. Here is an ardent critic of Tamil cinema seeking to leverage the potential of Tamil cinema to stay afloat and succeed as a politician, if one goes by what he cited as reasons for becoming an actor. Does this point to the coming of age of Tamil cinema and Tamil Nadu politics as mutual admiration societies? Or does this point to the coming of age of what I would call mutual exploitation societies? I am afraid the logic in either scenarios is a deeply entrenched desire to exploit the audience of Tamil cinema as well as the audience of Tamil politics in one go and making them forget their different roles as film audience and political audience/voters.
It remains to be seen how PMK would view the dramatic transformation of a die-hard Tamil cinema critic like Thol.Thirumavalavan as an actor-politician. It remains to be seen how the gains or losses would show up for both Vijaykanth and Thol.Thirumalavan on their political radars if these games of the mutual admiration societies become more dramatic and unpredictable in the days to come. Pity the Tamil voter or Tamil film fan?