Tinsel world and politics are inexorably linked to each other in Tamil Nadu, a State long dominated by film personalities. The buzz around the possible political entry of the two superstars of contrasting styles and worldview — Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan—has reached a feverish pitch, particularly in view of the political vacuum created by the death of Jayalalithaa and an acrimonious battle within the AIADMK to inherit her legacy. Kamal, a method actor par excellence with a penchant for experimentation with content and form, is off the block first with an unambiguous announcement about his imminent political plunge. He has been meeting certain like-minded political leaders as a prelude to the preparation for his new role. Aam Aadmi Party supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently flew down to Chennai for a luncheon meeting with Kamal, triggering speculation that they might come together on a joint platform to fight corruption, an issue common to their agenda. Beyond voicing anger over corruption and degeneration of political values in Tamil Nadu, Kamal, who has acted in over 200 films in a career spanning five decades, has not spelt out his political ideology. However, his preferred political colour is ‘certainly not saffron’, as the atheist actor himself had claimed. His political tourism included a meeting with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. A blend of Tamil identity, social justice and left-leaning socialist agenda could define his brand of politics. On the other hand, Rajinikanth, the demi-God of Tamil cinema, is deeply religious, which makes him the natural choice of the BJP seeking to find a foothold in the State.
Unlike Kamal who has been clear about his political ambitions, Rajinikanth has been vague, indecisive and ambivalent even while dropping tantalising hints about his future. Adored by millions of fans, the screen icon often tends to be reclusive and withdrawn. Every word that he utters in public is carefully analysed and subjected to microscopic scrutiny to gauge his mind. The call to his supporters to be ready for ‘poru’ (war) was the clearest indication of his political plan. The actor also spoke about the ‘rotten system’ and the need to change it. Many feel that once Thalaiva makes up his mind, the path would be clear for him to sweep elections and capture power. There is no doubt that if he takes the political plunge, it would be a game changer in Tamil Nadu. His recent call to his fans to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat mission has once again set off the buzz that he is gravitating towards the saffron party. The celebrated Rajini-Kamal onscreen rivalry may well be replicated on the political stage soon if both the stars eventually join electoral politics.