Kamal Haasan’s political journey, which has been christened ‘Naalai Namathe’, may not really portend the actor’s affiliations or allies, but the historical importance of it cannot be disputed.
‘Naalai Namathe’ is a little more than a film that featured MGR in his heyday. A remake of the Hindi film Yaadon Ki Baarat, the Tamil movie produced by Vijaya Vauhini Studios, and directed by KS Sethumadhavan, was made at a time – in 1975 – when MGR, whose AIADMK was only a few years old, was looking to mobilise popular support for his party’s ideologies through his movies. In the film, he stars as Vijay and Shankar, two among the three brothers who are separated in childhood, and are later reunited by their mother’s song which they know by heart. When Naalai Namathe opens, Rajashree as Kamala, the mother of three boys, sings:
அன்பு மலர்களே நம்பி இருங்களே
நாளை நமதே… இந்த நாளும் நமதே…
தருமம் உலகிலே இருக்கும் வரையிலே
நாளை நமதே… இந்த நாளும் நமதே
[Tomorrow will be ours; today belongs to us too]
A little while into the film, Chandramohan as Radhan, plays the song at a gathering, hoping to reunite with his siblings. Vijay (MGR), who also happens to be among the crowd, makes a cinematic exit just as the song is about to begin, and magically reappears when it’s over. Only towards the end of the film would the brothers recognise each other. In Vaali’s lyrics, sung by SP Balasubrahmanyam and TM Soundarrajan, and music by MS Viswanathan, the song would soon become a part of the regular playlist ahead of the AIADMK meetings to hail the ‘puratchi thalaivar’.
Much later, in 1996, the term would be used by MGR’s protégé and successor, Jayalalithaa, to reassure her party members when she was jailed. As journalist-writer Vaasanthi writes in her book, ‘Cut-outs, Caste and Cinestars’:
“When the Cabinet met on December 5, CM Karunanidhi discussed at length with his colleagues the political fallout of sending the AIADMK chief to jail. On December 6, Justice Shivappa of the Madras HC rejected seven anticipatory bail applications filed by Jayalalithaa including the one in the Rs 8.53 crore colour television scam for which she was ultimately arrested. And, she was informed well in advance after daybreak. She had time to bathe, dress, do her puja, have her usual breakfast, pack and bid a proper goodbye to her party men at the porch with a terse victory sign – Naalai Namathe!”
Kamal Haasan, who along with Rajinikanth had attended MGR’s 101st birth anniversary celebrations last week, will commence his political tour on February 21 from Ramanathapuram, his birth place. Revealing the name of the tour in his weekly column for Vikatan, the actor said that the name Nalai Namathe stands for a dream, one where Tamil Nadu belongs to its people, and its people are happy and prosperous.
Kamal Haasan is expected to reveal the name of his political party during the tour.
Watch the song here: