In an interview with Ananda Vikatan, director Bharathiraja spoke at length about the need for a good ‘Tamil’ leader.
“In a democratic government, anybody can become the leader. Anybody can join politics. But, only a Tamilian should hold the top job. You say that India is governed by the Central government. Then, why haven’t you been able to make sure the Cauvery water flows through our lands. Throw away all the differences you have with your neighbouring states. Prove that we are Indians first. Throw away your pride in your linguistic and cultural identity. Only then can we truly approve of a non-Tamil leader.”
Bharathiraja also found no fault with Seeman’s recent statement that Kamaraj was the last true Tamil leader. The director said that merely living in Tamil Nadu for a long time does not make one a ‘Tamilian’.”Veeramamunivar, Caldwell were all people who came to Tamil Nadu to preach. They learnt the language to make sure that their ideology can be spread here. They fell in love with our culture and our way of living. They are scholars in our language. But can we call them Tamil? Same way, I spent 18 years in Allinagaram, Theni. I have been in Chennai for over 60 years. But, can you call me a true Chennai-ite? No, I am still the same man from Allinagaram.
Karunanidhi and Anna should not be examples for us. We should not allow them to influence our way of governance. If we keep electing people with non-Tamil backgrounds, then we will slowly lose our identity and culture.”
Bharathiraja also insisted that he had nothing against Rajinikanth. “Rajini is my greatest friend. He is a wonderful person; won’t hurt anybody. He is not greedy at all and is extremely spiritual. But, that doesn’t mean he will not protect what he has earned. Basically, he is a very good human being. He’d treat even a small child with respect. From the old to the young, he is loved by everybody. I want to tell him, ‘You have pure feet. You have walked on grass. You have walked in flower gardens. Why do you want to sully yourself by jumping into the cesspool that is politics?'”
Bharathiraja felt that any man, no matter how good, will be destroyed if he enters politics. “If you want to be in politics ,you cannot survive on your money alone. You have to get funding somewhere. That’s where corruption begins. You have to act differently for each and every other person. Do you really want to live such a fake life? If Rajini wants to, he can join politics. I am afraid that his good heart will get corrupted, that’s all!”
The director then criticised the media for not stressing enough on Rajini’s credentials. “The media needs to have some dharma. When an actor announces his intent to join politics, you must ask him what he has done to improve life. Cinema is a publicity medium. Here, if someone portrays the messenger of God onscreen, then the people think that he is the messenger of God in real life as well. Even when a child joins the industry to act, the media makes it a point to ask him/her about their interest in politics.”
Bharathiraja also criticised the awards system in the country. “The State Awards have not been announced in a long time. The situation will improve only if there is some discipline in the people behind it. I have been a part of award committees for a long time. Usually, in the group, there will be three writers, two filmmakers and four people with some connection to the current government. Hence, the people who actually know something about films are the minority vote. That’s why I don’t think highly of the so-called award winning films. Around the time of 16 Vayathinile, it didn’t win the National award. It went to a film called Agraharathil Kazhuthai. That was because of influence. Even years later, they still talk glowingly about my film. Who’s talking about Agraharathil Kazhuthai now?”