Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Sharath Kumar, Vijayakanth…take your pick. In movie-mad Tamil Nadu, the transition from a film actor/director to politics is effortless. And, the latest chatter is about Rajinikanth joining politics. This is not the first time. Before the 2009 general election, a gathering of diehard Rajini fans converged at a small temple in Rajapalayam to pray that their icon get a divine message and join politics.
With the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in a shambles after Jayalalithaa’s death and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam seemingly powerless in wresting power, the state is sensing a leadership vacuum. Rajinikanth, once a bus conductor in Karnataka, who then made good in Tamil Nadu’s film industry, was supposed to meet fans from April 12 to 16. This meeting, for fans to get themselves photographed with the legendary actor, would have been the first time in 10 years that the star met his admirers personally.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called on Rajini at the latter’s residence a few days before the 2014 Lok Sabha poll. Last week, Bharatiya Janata Party national secretary H Raja said Rajini was a “popular” personality and welcome to join their party. Rajini on board the BJP will be an electoral trump card for the latter, yet to make inroads in the state.
Sensing that his fans would ask questions about political options, the April 12 meeting never happened and was postponed indefinitely, to be then held in Chennai last week, in truncated form. “Please don’t ask political questions,” he told reporters when they quizzed him about joining politics. To his fans, the actor said: “My life is in the hands of God. I’m not sure what he has in store for me. But, I will always perform the duty that he bestows on me. So, don’t feel disappointed if I don’t enter politics.”
In the same breath, he added that if he did join politics, he would ensure no place for those seeking material gain. “Money-minded people will be shunned. So, I warn you now itself to stay away,” he said.
Rajinikanth’s comments to his fans were as cryptic as Kamalahaasan’s comments on state politics, on leaders and followers and a range of other issues. Clearly, it is not only the people of Tamil Nadu who can sniff a vacuum but the film leadership as well. However, something is holding all of them back. And, it looks as if the BJP will have to wait before it can snare a really big personality to lead it in the state.