CHENNAI: Four decades ago, the Political landscape of Tamil Nadu witnessed intense competition between actors: MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. Both had a huge fan base, but Sivaji lost out in the political race.
Today, a similar competition is hotting up between two other superstars. A couple of months ago, Kamal Haasan decided to chart a political course+ , and a couple of days ago his arch-rival Rajinikanth followed suit+ .
The stage is set once again for the clash of two film titans intent on grabbing political space. While his charity work also helped MGR build up a loyal following, Sivaji failed to do so. His followers saw him as a great matinee idol, but were reluctant to support his political image. The entry of Rajini-Kamal into politics is working on a similar plot. Some observers feel that ‘Rajini is MGR and Kamal is Sivaji.’
“Rajini has a huge fan following across Tamil Nadu. He is accessible to public and even considered a simple, straightforward person. Kamal is brilliant and honest but it will be a tough game for him in politics,” said R Kannan, Dravidian scholar and author of “MGR: A Life” and “Anna: The Life and Times of C N Annadurai”.
Read also: Tamil Nadu needs a political revolution, Rajinikanth says
MGR showed great concern for public welfare and successfully used his movies to lay the foundation for his entry to politics.
“From the beginning, unlike Sivaji Ganesan, he (MGR) cultivated and promoted artists, directors, poets, producers and technicians who suited his professional and political ends. He patronised them and their careers became inextricably linked to his. In 1971, a generous MGR gave poet Pulamaipithan money to buy back his ancestral house that had been mortgaged,” said Kannan.
Despite being a great actor, Sivaji Ganesan couldn’t transfer his cinematic image to politics. But, the MGR-Sivaji Ganesan fight was long ago, on a socially and culturally different backdrop. Today’s political landscape is different. “MGR was a success both in cinema and in politics. Actor-turned politician Vijayakanth succeeded a little bit in politics, but lost out later. Rajini has a great fan-following in the state. But, he is a very shy person. His success depends on how he is going to showcase his public life now,” said Kannan.
At a time when even seasoned politicians like DMK working president M K Stalin have still not been given a clean chit by the public, it remains to be seen how actors like Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth are going to win over the hearts of voters. “What Rajini needs is to build up interaction with the public. As an actor, he has done his job. But being a good politician is not easy and Rajini is new to it. But I believe he will put up a better show compared to Kamal Haasan in politics,” said K Murugesan, a retired professor of politics. Source : timesofindia