Separating politics and cinema in Tamil Nadu is not easy. A look back at the state’s political landscape only shows that on-screen demigods have managed to convince their fans that they can be political saviors too. MG Ramachandran’s (MGR) political image was an extension of his larger than life on-screen persona. J Jayalalithaa could retain her aura and mystery even as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. M Karunanidhi’s fiery script reflected in his speeches and managed to charge-up the masses. Of course, Sivaji Ganesan’s example is an exception in this case.
Tamil Nadu governments in the past have managed to retain their autonomy without much interference from the central government in New Delhi. But since the demise of Jayalalithaa, that has not been the case. There is a vacuum in the political leadership. The state is once again searching for a saviour. Enter Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth. There have been murmurs for a long time of their entry into politics. While the Thalaivar is happy dropping hints for now, the Ulaganayan is ready to take the plunge. However, which way he will lean is a question that everyone is asking.
The fact that Kamal Haasan is extremely critical of the current AIADMK government is not news. Though he shares a cordial relationship with the DMK patriarch, he has made no advances to join the party. He was seen in the company of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. He has also mentioned that his colour is not saffron. It is natural for a star of his stature to bank on his fans for the votes, perhaps that’s why, Haasan is keen to launch his own party. Of course, politics is a different ballgame. His fans might worship his on-screen ‘dasavatharam’ but his political avatar might not get the same adulation.
Haasan recently met representatives of his fan association. While other stars have rasigar mandram, Haasan’s fan association is called narpani mandram (welfare association). “No need to just whistle for me when I am on-screen, as fans, just do good to people, our thalaivar tells us quite often,” says a Haasan fan.
“He told us that he is entering politics by launching his own party and there will be an official announcement soon,” says another Haasan fan after Wednesday’s meeting. The meeting was not one-off. The actor usually meets his fans four times in a year, informs a source.
His fan associations are spread across the state and there are 6 lakh members in these associations, and close to 25,000 narpani mandrams.
In the 80s, the fan clubs began as rasigar mandram after the release of Kadal Meengal in 1981. In 1984, rasigar mandram turned into narpani mandram as per the actor’s request. When Haasan’s film Rajaparvai released, in which he played a visually-challenged person, his fan associations conducted eye donation camps.
“Since then, we have been conducting eye and blood donations camps. We spend on service rather than banners and posters. Till now, on the first day first show of our thalaivar’s film release, we buy sarees and shirts for the workers in the theatres besides the cut outs,” informs a fan.
Over 25,ooo members even cleaned a lake near Tambaram. “If our thalaivar comes to politics he will do good and we are there for him,” assures a member of his narpani mandram.