Tamil Nadu’s political scenario has always been very dramatic. And a probable reason behind that could be the film stars power trumping political throne in the state. Five of the Tamil Nadu chief ministers - C.N. Annadurai, M. Karunanidhi, M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), Janaki Ramachandran and J. Jayalalitha - had their roots in the Tamil film industry. Apart from these leaders, the state has seen several actor-turned-politicians. While some actors like the late Sivaji Ganesan and A.Vijayakanth floated their own parties, several others like Kushboo and Anantharaaj have joined the existing political parties.
The 1977 movie Aadu Puli Attam (The Goat and the Tiger game) featured both Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth together. The latter played the role of an antagonist named Rajini and had a signature line throughout the movie followed by a menacing laugh — “Idhu thaan Rajini style” (This is Rajini style)! Rajini’s political entry was also a one-liner of that sort. “Naa arasiyallukku varuvadhu urudhi” (My entry into politics is certain), Rajinikanth declared amidst a loud cheer from the assembly of his fans.
Rajini and Kamal had done a few hit movies together in the 1970s after which the latter suggested that the two shouldn’t act together anymore. The Ulaga Nayagan felt that it would allow Rajini to explore himself as the leading man instead of playing the stylish villain opposite him. Though it’s interesting to note that both kicked off their successful journey in Kollywood almost together with the 1975 blockbuster Apoorva Raagangal. It is a twist of fate that Rajini and Kamal now find themselves once again together in the political cinemascope fighting against each other. They even announced their political entry in the same year. Ironically, Kamal Haasan was among the first ones to appreciate and congratulate Rajinikanth's stand on entering politics.
Clearly, Rajini vs Kamal, a star war is approaching the political landscape of Tamil Nadu. In fact, this reminds us of the intense competition between actors: MGR and Sivaji Ganesan that the state witnessed four decades ago. Both had a huge fan base, but Sivaji lost out in the political race.
Since announcing his political debut, Rajinikanth has made three public appearances in which one thing has been constant – a symbol that is hard to miss. A closer look shows that the hand gesture is placed on a white lotus, with a snake encircling it. While everyone is wondering if this would be the logo of his party, the symbol is not new to the Tamil audience. It hails from the 2002 release ‘Baba’, which was directed and produced by Rajinikanth. However, veteran actor Mohan V. Raman said that while it is true that the symbol was present in many of his movies, we should wait for the star to tell the significance.
While Rajini has always been a mass hero, Kamal has been considered more intellectual with an urban appeal. Many of their fans claim that a Rajini vs Kamal fight will work to the advantage of the Dravidian players, hence, they should join hands. At an event in Chennai in September, Kamal said, “There are questions whether I will join hands with Rajinikanth in politics. If Rajini enters politics, I will join hands with him.”
The Superstar or the Ulaga Nayagan, Tamil Nadu needs to chose its next celebrated leader now.