K Jayadev

Politics and cinema are synonymous to one another in Tamil Nadu. Over the last five decades the state has seen a galaxy of film stars and actors entering politics, some even ruling the state.

The announcement of Kamal Haasan and later by Rajini Kanth doesn't come as surprise anyone. In fact, many say it was expected. But what makes the political scenario interesting and exciting is, the who's who of Tamil film industry have all thrown their hats into the ring and are seriously looking at providing "a better political alternative" for the next Assembly elections.

Today we are not talking about Kamal and Rajini. A string of actors have made a bee line to start different political parties and fight the elections. From Vishal to Vijay, we have many new actors joining the bandwagon.

Old players like Vijayakanth having failed as a separate party joined hands with AIADMK, but for the next polls hints at going alone. We already have Kushbu, popular for her comments on television channels is trying to drum up popular support for the Congress and Sarathkumar, who has been in and out of AIADMK, who started his own party and now joined hands with Seeman.

Why this sudden cinematic excess in Tamil Nadu politics? The death of AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha has definitely left a vacuum in the state, at least all the actors feel so. But will they be able to make dent to the Dravidian parties of AIADMK and DMK?

It would not be an exaggeration to mention that the Dravidian politics originated with cinema. It is rooted in anti-British and anti-Brahmin and the movies of the period were perfectly used as propaganda machines by the Dravidian politicians, who went on to form Dravida Kazhagam (DK) with Periyar leading them.

DK turned into DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) led by Dr Annadurai, after Periyar parted ways because of his acquaintance with a young lady. Leading the DMK was Anna, a great story and screenwriter. He was ably supported by poet and dialogue writer Dr M Karunanidhi. Both of them pushed their ideologies through the medium of films.

The actors of those times, Sivaji Ganesan, SS Rajendran, MG Ramachandran were mere pawns in the hands of these legendary figures and were uttering the words that were supplied by Dravidian leaders. Anna went on to become the state's first chief minister.

The astounding run of the DMK was put to a halt by their own matinee idol MGR, who, after a disagreement with Karunanidhi, he walked out of the party to form Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) which later in 1972 became All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

MGR became the chief minister in 1977 and was leading the state till 1987. After his death briefly his wife Janaki (who was also film actress) tried her hands at helming the party affairs but was overshadowed by charismatic Jayalalitha, who she took over the reins of AIADMK. The battlelines were now drawn between Jayalalitha's AIADMK and Karunanidhi's DMK.

There were attempts at entering public life from other film stars like Sivaji who tried his hand in politics. He joined Janata Dal but was unable to make any impression. Before Sivaji's failure we had actors like Cho Ranmaswamy, NS Krishnan, MR Radha, SS Rajendran and others etc making their foray into the state politics without success.

Of late Vijayakanth definitely showed some promise. Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi were active when Captain, as he is popularly known, started his party Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK). In fact, he went on to become the leader of the opposition in state assembly, but unfortunately he has not been able to keep up the momentum. The next elections, he made it clear that he will go alone and not tie-up with any party.

The scenario has just got heated up with the two top stars Kamal and Rajini making their plunge into the world of politics. In addition we have Vishal Reddy, a young actor also announcing his party formation. Sarathkumar who had been in and out of AIADMK is forming a separate front. The latest to foray is Vijay, currently the leading actor in Tamil films.

It now looks like the clutter will get clear only when we close in on the elections, but whatever be the end result, it is sure to be a blockbuster of an election in 2021. So get ready folks!