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Kollywood votes at Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections 2016

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With photography by Sriram Narasimhan and Dani Charles

Tamil Nadu votes today, bringing to an end a months long campaign marked by acrimony and ill-will. During campaign season, politics had taken over radio, television and the internet – political-songs blaring out of loudspeakers, phone calls asking for votes, debates on television, advertisements on radio, memes on social media.

It’s all over. Even the shouting.

Barring a couple, most of Tamil Nadu’s 234 constituencies will hold their elections today. And like every political campaign in Tamil Nadu, cinema has not been far. No surprise in a state where every Chief Minister over the past three decades (barring the stopgap O Panneerselvam) has been associated with the film industry.

Incumbent Chief Minister (and former actress) J. Jayalalitha will be contesting from the RK Nagar Constituency in Chennai; her closest challenger (and former writer and filmmaker) M. Karunanidhi contests from his native Tiruvarur. A third front led by actor and former Leader of the Opposition Vijayakanth is in the fray, as are fourth and fifth fronts, one of which is helmed by actor and director Seeman.

Several movie stars are contesting the elections this year. Former president of the Actor’s Guild and sitting MLA Sarathkumar first withdrew support for the ruling AIADMK and then withdrew his withdrawal of support. He is contesting the election from Tiruchendur under the AIADMK symbol. National award winning actor (and now career politician) Vaagai Chandrasekar is contesting from Thiruvanmiyur for the DMK. Karunas, actor and comedian, and late entrant to politics is now an AIADMK candidate. And actors like Kushboo Sundar (Indian National Congress), Namitha, Vindhiya, Manobala and Singamuthu (AIADMK), Imman Annachi (DMK), while not contesting the elections themselves, have been actively campaigning for their respective parties.

Meanwhile, there have been several actors who have been conspicuously neutral. Veterans like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan have stayed above the fray, while actor Vijay was had to issue a statement stressing that he was not supporting anyone in the elections.

Kerala also sees some stars in the fray, including former cricketer Sreesanth, actor Mukesh and comedian Jagadeesh.

And then there are the campaigns to get out the vote. The Election Commission has roped in actors Suriya and Nasser; cricketers Ravichandran Ashwin and Dinesh Karthik ; and squash player Dipika Pallikal as part of its ‘TN 100 percent’ campaign. Other celebrities have run their own campaigns encouraging people to vote.

Here’s where you can check our previous election coverage.

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