Return of Rajinikanth? Perennial spotlight now on superstar's decision regarding TN politics

Sreedhar Pillai

May,22 2017 11:05 51 IST

Superstar Rajinikanth is back under the Tamil Nadu political spotlight, following his 5-day “meet and greet” with his fans. The actor spewed enough punchlines on the concluding day to make his fans whistle and clap and stirred Tamil Nadu’s murky politics. Rajinikanth said that the “political system is rotten and it needs a clean-up.

Rajinikanth. Image from News 18.

Rajinikanth gave broad hints that he may join politics to clean-up the Augean stables. The actor said: “I’am a mere tool. I serve as an actor today. Whatever role God gives me tomorrow, I will stay true to that. Right now, I have my own responsibilities and job. So too you have yours. So go back to your places and look after your families and attend to your duties. We will see when the war comes.”

But what caught the politicians’ attention was that he went out of his way to assert that he is a Pachai Tamizhan (true Tamil). The superstar asserted firmly: “I want to state this clearly: questions are raised about my non-Tamil origins. I’m 67 years old now, I was in Karnataka only for the first 23 years of my life. I have been living among you for the last 44 years in Tamil Nadu. Though I came here as a Marathi or Kannadiga, you have showered love, affection, name and fame and made me whatever I’m today. Today I have become a Pachai Tamizhan to the core. My ancestors were from Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu.”

Also read: Rajinikanth and TN politics: Being a superstar is very different from being a successful politician

Rajinikanth’s Pachai Tamizhan speech has made his fans happy but irked the mainstream political parties and fringe groups in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Fringe groups opposed to Rajinikanth's political entry, have threatened to March towards his house. Security has been increased at Thalaivar's residence.

Though critical of the political system, he sang praises of Tamil politicians like MK Stalin, Anbumani Ramdoss (one of Rajinikanth’s biggest critics), Thirumavalavan and Seeman. It was a delicate balancing act, because most of these politicians want to put an “end to cinema stars ruling Tamil politics”.

They also feel Rajinikanth is BJP’s and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Trojan Horse’, to break the Dravidian parties hold over the state electorate.

However Tamil Nadu politics is once again on the boil, with focus back on superstar Rajiniakanth’s entry into politics.

A section of his fans are euphoric while another group believe that this is his typical cry of wolf, but it never materialises. Rajinikanth has been threatening to enter politics, ever since he spoke against the Jayalalithaa first government (1991-96), and his famous statement “even God cannot save Tamil Nadu if the AIADMK was re-elected”.

Then Rajinikanth’s mentor Moopanar’s TMC and DMK led by Karunanidhi came to power. Rajinikanth got full credit for the DMK government coming to power. But in 2001 state elections, DMK lost, AIADMK was swept back to power and Rajinikanth made peace with Jayalalithaa.

The superstar once again concentrated on his film career and gave mega hits like Chandramukhi, Sivaji, Endhiran etc.

But if you watch his late 90s and early 2000 films, it is fully loaded with sly ‘political one-liners’ hinting about his coming into politics, God willing.

The superstar never held any fan meet for the last eight years, and six of these years Jayalalithaa was the chief minister.

One of the posters imploring Rajinikanth to join politics and save Tamil Nadu, that has been doing the rounds

One of the posters imploring Rajinikanth to join politics and save Tamil Nadu, that has been doing the rounds.

The Rajinikanth meet and greet with his fans has sped up his possible entry into Tamil Nadu politics. The point of all discussion today is — will he or won’t he join politics? Many are still skeptical about Rajinikanth’s imminent entry into politics. The buzz is that he has told his friends that he will enter politics to fill the political vacuum created by the death of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi being no longer active in politics.

Rajinikanth wants to test the waters and that is the reason for his meet and greet with fans. The superstar is closest to the Hindutva ideology and has always been in the inner circle of BJP stalwarts like  LK Advani and now Prime Minister Modi. Please note Modi a few months back had personally dropped in to Rajinikanth’s house to invite him to spearhead the party in Tamil Nadu.

The grapevine has it that Rajinikanth is toying with the idea of starting his own political party, which will have the tacit support of BJP central leadership. The idea is that if he joins BJP it has no grass root support in a Dravidian state which also has a strong Muslim and Christian population.

Sumanth Raman, noted political observer pointed out: “The recent fan meetings seem to give an indication that he is likely to take the plunge. I think he will start his own party and will have an alliance with BJP during elections, which both the Dravidian parties (DMK & AIADMK) has done in the past. I think being an actor does not guarantee success in politics but it gives a head start as people know and adore him.”

Rajinikanth with Narendra Modi. Agencies.

Rajinikanth with Narendra Modi. Agencies.

However Kollywood sources say that Rajinikanth is still not ready to jump into politics. His big budget film, the Shankar directed 2.O is getting ready for a 2018 Republic Day release. Rajinikanth is a shrewd businessman at heart and knows that if he jumps into politics, his film career will go kaput.

Please note MGR, NTR and Jayalithaa’s last films, which released after they jumped into the murky world of politics, bombed.

Meanwhile last Saturday at the Tamil Nadu box-office, SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali 2, quietly broke the long standing record of Rajinikanth’s 2010 film Endhiran's lifetime theatrical collection of Rs 110 cr. A prominent theatre owner from Chengalpet area (which is Rajinikanth’s highest collecting trade territory) said: “Yes Baahubali 2 has broken all existing box-office records including Thalaivar’s 7-year old Endhiran record in gross, net and footfalls. But we are not making a hue and cry over it, as Rajinikanth holds a special place in our hearts and hopefully 2.O will break Baahubali 2 records.”

For Rajinikanth commercial cinema is what keeps him going. His next film, said to be a gangster film based in Mumbai and directed by Pa.Ranjith, of Kabali fame, will start rolling by the end of the month. The film is produced by his son-in-law Dhanush and his Wunderbar banner. Another veteran producer who understands Kollywood said: “There is tremendous pressure on him from BJP to fill up the political vacuum in the state. According to their internal surveys carried out by the party, Rajinikanth can boost their chances and keep Stalin and others away from capturing power in the state. I feel he will take the right decision.”

Rajinikanth frenzy now has a match in Bahubali/Baahubali 2 mania

Rajinikanth frenzy now has a match in Bahubali/Baahubali 2 mania

Rajinikanth’s close buddy Raj Bahadur, who was the driver in the Karnataka State Bus (Route No.10A), when Rajini was the conductor, told a Tamil news channel: “ Rajini was in Bengaluru 10 days back for a wedding in the family. We met and talked about politics for hours. I asked him if he had made up his mind and he said ‘Yes, now I’m ready, having deeply studied politics for the last 20 years’. I’m sure Rajinikanth will make a firm decision soon.”

Meanwhile the grapevine is abuzz that Rajinikanth will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his proposed New Delhi trip, later this week. BJP President Amit Shah has said that the party would welcome Rajinikanth, but first the superstar has to take a call on his entry into politics.

Everybody  is eagerly waiting for Rajinikanth to make up his mind and if he takes the plunge it will be a game changer in Tamil Nadu politics.

Published Date: May 22, 2017 11:05 AM | Updated Date: May 22, 2017 11:08 AM