The Politics of MGR and Sivaji Fans: The New Contours
As a school student, I was witness to the seemingly endless arguments of MGR and Sivaji fans regarding the virtues of their idols. Every move of MGR fans was sought to be matched by the fans of Sivaji during the time of new releases. The politics of Tamil cinema was clearly divided along the lines determined by the camps of Sivaji and MGR during 1960s and 1970s. During the period, Tamil cinema industry survived solely as a joint venture of Sivaji and MGR. There were only two kinds of films (MGR films and Sivaji films) and two kinds of fans (the rustic/working class/rural fans of MGR and the educated/middle class/urban fans of Sivaji). They mediated the politics of their respective camps in ways which are different from the modes adopted by their present day successors. There were no chat rooms and discussion forums to keep alive their antagonism for each other outside their geographical territories. The fans of MGR and Sivaji in different parts of Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Malaysia were not engaged in a live network of politics. They were physically and culturally separated from each other and were mostly tied to their micro landscapes of their favourite local theatres, film magazines and fan clubs. They were clearly lacking in the contours of the present day politics of the fans of MGR and Sivaji. The rivalries of the past which were enacted in the micro landscapes of favourite theatres, film magazines and fan clubs can not take place in the same environs as they no longer exist in the real world with their original aura. However, they can be enacted better and well in the virtual networks of fans from different parts of the world in the micro worlds of chat rooms, discussion forums/threads and blogs. They survive on their bloated egos, vivid memories and caustic tirades against each other’s camp. They also survive on the feeds of their favourite stars’ footages available on Youtube. They are not waging a localised fight as before. The struggle between the fans of MGR and Sivaji is more global than before as the fans from distant territories converge simultaneously on their favourite micro landscapes to enact their performances of adulation and rivlary for their stars who died long ago. This is a case where the real worldÂ fan clubs of the past are metamorphosing in disparate ways in the virtual world of internet and its micro landscapes. For a good introduction to the new contours of the politics of MGR and Sivaji fans, the activities of the fans on popular discussion forums such as the hub serve as useful pointers.