Politics and Cinema aretwo things in Tamil Nadu that make heads turn.
What makes them stand out is thefact that Tamilians take both their politicians and actors seriously. It isalso interesting to note that they become jubilant when both the identitiesblur and become the same. The roots of the seemingly straightforward Tamil filmindustry are very closely connected to the ever-complicated Dravidian politics.In fact, many a times, they are interdependent. Thus, to understand theworkings of the most successful field in the entertaining industry in TamilNadu, i.e.
the film industry, it is important to understand the influence ofpolitics in the film industry.Ever since the origin ofthe Dravidian parties, there is no other third party that is strong. Fordecades, it is either the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) or the All India AnnaDravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) that comes to power. The demise of J.
Jayalalitha on 5 December 2016 jolted the whole of Tamil Nadu, leaving them inchaos, agitation and a series of riots and protests about her successor. Sincethen, the government has not been quite the same. A lot of controversies were spun around the ministers,MLAs and party members in power. All social media domains were flooded withunsatisfactory remarks about the party’s irresponsibility and them splitting intodifferent groups. Critics expected that the government would topple but whatcaused a greater shock to the masses was the tentative entry of the twogreatest actors/performers/heroes of the age, into politics: Thalaivar (Leader) Padma Vibhushan Rajinikanthand Ulaganayagan (Hero of the World)Padma Bhushan Kamal Haasan. Rajinikanth has confirmed his entry into politics. He also mentioned about wanting to form aseparate political party and follow “spiritual politics” to fight corruption inthe state.
On the contrary, Kamal Haasan has not expressed his political plansso far.Sivaji Ganesan, a popularactor, was a member of the DMK till 1955 and joined Congress in 1961 andsubsequently became the leader of the short-lived political party, TamizhagaMunnetra Munnani (TMM) in 1988. He then became the president of the JanataDal’s Tamil faction in 1989. He had also once remarked that it wasn’t forpersonal reasons, but he was forced to enter politics for the sake of other “professional politicians”. MakkalThilagam (People’s King) MGR was one of the most iconicfigures of the Tamil film industry.
He then became one of the most importantmembers of the DMK and then formed his own party (AIADMK) against hisfriend-turned-rival M. Karunanidhi. He was the first actor to become the ChiefMinister in 1977 by defeating DMK.Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi,Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for five times, is the first leader of the popularpolitical party DMK, because C.K.
Annadurai left the leader post empty forPeriyar (E.V. Ramasamy). He was also a screenplay writer who propagated thebeliefs and ideals of the then Dravidian movements he was involved in. Puratchi Thalaivi (Revolutionary leader)J. Jayalalitha, a popular actress, was the propaganda secretary of the AIADMK, andthen became the Chief Minister of the state for fourteen years between 1991 and2016.These imminentpersonalities have shaped both politics and the film industry with theirpopularity among the general public while the directors Mani Ratnam and Shankarcontinue to influence the industry.
Although they vary in their ideologies andstyles of film making, one cannot deny their contribution to the industry andthe society through their films. While Mani Ratnam uses the realist approach,Shankar focuses on high budgeted films and is a pioneer of the vigilante films.This paper will focus onthe manner in which the two broad fields of cinema and politics areinter-connected, how they influence each other to the way it has become and howthey impact all sections of the Tamilian society.Reviewof LiteratureRobert L. Hardgrave, Jr.and Anthony C. Neidhart, remarked that the South Indian films were the majorvehicle of the Dravidian movements. This, they say, can be evaluated by thevictory of the DMK in Tamil Nadu in the 1967 elections.
Also, according totheir survey conducted in 1969 of a 1000people equally from urban Madras City and the rural areas of North and SouthArcot and Tanjavur districts, Hardgrave Jr. and Neidhart inferred that Sivajiwas more popular among people belonging to all income levels in both rural andurban areas. Apart from this, the above mentioned facts about Sivaji and MGR, MethodologySecondary sources likenewspaper articles, books on Tamil cinema and politics, with special referencesto late. Sivaji Ganesan, late. M.
G. Ravichandran, late. J. Jayalalitha, M.
Karunanidhi, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Mani Ratnam and S. Shankar will be usedto study on the above-mentioned topic. Tamil films that are important to thesubject, and those that help in understanding Dravidian politics and Tamilcinema better would be analysed. A few of the films that would be studied are Iruvar (1997), Mudhalvan (1999), Gentleman(1993), Aayitha Ezhuthu (2004), Madras (2014) and Ko (2011).Apart from this, trustedand verified sources from the internet like journals and research articleswould be studied and analysed to find the research gaps.Researchand FindingsThe paper will mostimportantly focus on the origin of a political field that depended on the filmindustry for propaganda, and on the origin of a film industry where actors andproducers could use their influences in the society to venture into politics.
For years, most Dravidianparties have used media, especially films, quite effectively and efficiently,for propagating their policies and ideologies. To understand the formation ofthe government, it is important to understand the people who form the rulingparty, their careers prior to their entry to politics and how they managed tosecure votes. The film stars whosupport these parties in their films and through their fan base are placed inhigh positions within these parties. This can be understood from the leaders ofthe ruling parties of Tamil Nadu. Since 1967 onwards, Tamil Nadu has beenalmost always been ruled by popular celebrities from the Tamil film industrystarting from C.
N. Annadurai, M. Karunanidhi, M. G. Ramachandran and J.Jayalalitha. So, the importantfindings would be about the motives behind their (actors/artists/technicians)entry into politics. Rajinikanth had recentlymentioned in one of his interviews that, it was time for him to be a part ofpolitics, not because he was interested in power and money, but it seemednecessary that he enter politics to save the state from its bad condition.
So,almost all the politicians, till date, have given similar statements of howthey came into the field to serve the public and not for name and fame. But thefact remains that the whole system has gone corrupt and everyone is playing theblame game. Will the new entries Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth be any different?Is this the breakthrough that the state needs after a series of recognisedfailures? ReferencesHardgrave, Robert L, andAnthony C. Neidhart. “Films and Political Consciousness in TamilNadu.” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 10, no.
1/2, 11 Jan. 1975, www.jstor.
(2017). Tamil cinema andDravidian politics. online Available at:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_cinema_and_Dravidian_politics Accessed 10Jan. 2018.Karthikeyan, P.
(2018). Is Rajinikanth Really the Change Tamil Nadu’s Politics Needs? -The Wire. online The Wire.
Available at:https://thewire.in/209611/is-rajinikanth-really-the-change-tamil-nadus-politics-needs/Accessed 10 Jan. 2018.